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Cop Found Her Singing in the Subway. Now She's a Viral Hit

People want to help Emily Zamourka, a homeless immigrant—but it's complicated
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2019 9:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – It's "like the American Idol story, but on social media." That's how a rep for a Los Angeles councilman describes the plight of Emily Zamourka, a homeless woman discovered singing in an empty subway station by an LAPD officer. Zamourka may now have a new lease on life thanks to a video that officer recorded, which got posted on Twitter last week and quickly went viral. "4 million people call LA home," the police department tweeted. "4 million stories. 4 million voices...sometimes you just have to stop and listen to one, to hear something beautiful." Local news outlets soon tracked Zamourka down, with CBS Evening News deeming her story "one of perseverance." She's a Russian immigrant who came to the US at age 24, reports the Washington Post, and she initially taught violin and piano lessons to make a living.

Unspecified health issues led her to give up teaching, though, and she started doing street performances with her $10,000 violin. Then, two years ago, a man grabbed her violin and damaged it to the point she could no longer use it; KABC shows cellphone video from that moment as she wailed over her destroyed instrument. "When I lost that, I felt like I lost everything," Zamourka tells the news outlet, which notes she played an electric violin for a while—until someone pushed her off a bus and she broke her wrist. She ended up on the streets not long after that. LA Councilman Joe Buscaino has been trying to find housing for Zamourka, and a GoFundMe set up to help her has already raised more than $30,000, but Buscaino's rep says Zamourka has been hard to find since she became internet-famous. "She's been overwhelmed with the attention," he tells the Post. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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