Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised for a homeless opera singer who became an overnight sensation after a video tweeted out by Los Angeles police of her performing in a Metro subway station went viral.
As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, two separate GoFundMe accounts set up to help Emily Zamourka find a place to live and get a new violin had netted more than $64,000.
Zamourka garnered national attention after her angelic voice first caught the attention of an LAPD officer on a subway platform at the Wilshire/Normandie Purple Line Metro station in Koreatown last week.
Touched by the beauty of her song, the officer asked Zamourka if he could film her — something she said she initially resisted.
“I told him, ‘Please don’t do it.’ I felt intimidated,” Zamourka told the Los Angeles Times. “What do you expect with a police officer taking a picture of you?”
But she eventually relented, requesting only that the footage not be shared online, the Times reported.
The video of the subway serenade ultimately made it to LAPD’s main Twitter account last Thursday. The caption simply read: “4 million people call LA home. 4 million stories. 4 million voices…sometimes you just have to stop and listen to one, to hear something beautiful.”
More than 800,000 people have since viewed clip.
Many wanted to know the identity of the songstress and more about her story. Others were skeptical, wary that the whole thing had been staged.
The mystery slowly began to unravel over the weekend when Zamourka stepped forward.
She detailed some of her backstory to KTLA on Sunday, saying she came to America at the age of 24. For years, she taught music and performed on the streets of Los Angeles.
But all that changed three years ago when her violin was stolen.
“It was my income, it was everything,” she said.
Her dreams of making it big were dashed, and Zamourka said she was forced to live in the streets. For money, she sang in the Metro station.
“You know why I do it in the subway? Because it sounds so great,” Zamourka explained.
The 52-year-old, who is originally from Russia and has lived in other states in the U.S., told the Times she’s faced years of serious health issues and financial difficulties.
Through it all, she’s tried to maintain a positive attitude that one day, things would be turn around.
“It has to end at some point somehow, some day,” Zamourka told KTLA. “If it’s God’s will for my life to change, then I will praise Him and be so grateful.”
Michael Trujillo, an L.A. political consultant who organized one of the GoFundMe accounts, provided an update Monday on Zamourka’s situation.
He wrote on the page Monday that he has been in touch with the Downtown Women’s Center, which was ready to put the singer up in a hotel.
Trujillo wrote the money from his page would go to the center, to be used to help the singer get back on her feet — “assuming Emily wants their assistance.”
Both fundraising accounts have been verified, according to a GoFundMe representative.