Emily Zamourka's life has changed drastically since she was first discovered singing opera in a subway station in Los Angeles.
The 52-year-old, who'd been living on the streets, found overnight fame after an LAPD officer recorded her performance of Giacomo Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" on the platform Sept. 26.
Struck by her incredible voice, the officer captured the moment at the Wilshire and Normandie Purple Line station, according to Good News Network, and uploaded it to Twitter where it quickly became a viral sensation.
"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," the LAPD wrote.
4 million people call LA home. 4 million stories. 4 million voices...sometimes you just have to stop and listen to… https://t.co/U0A3yXe5Zs— LAPD HQ (@LAPD HQ)1569554536.0
Zamourka's new-found popularity opened the door to her first on-stage singing debut after Los Angeles Councilmember Joe Buscaino invited her to perform at a celebration of Los Angeles' new Little Italy on Saturday, CNN reports.
"I didn't have much time to practice, so I'm just gonna sing the same song I sang on the subway...That ok with you?" Zamourka asked the audience.
She's also been offered a record deal by Grammy-nominated music producer Joel Diamond. "Emily's story is what dreams are made of," Diamond told CNN. "And I never turn my back on a dream."
"I don't even know what's happening," Zamourka told reporters after her debut performance. "It's so much, so fast."
Surprisingly, she's had no formal vocal training, but is a classically trained pianist and violinist, ABC 7 reports.
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"You know why I do it in the subway is because it sounds so great," she said.
Zamourka used to play her violin around the city to make money until someone stole the $10,000 instrument three years ago. After a serious health challenge and the financial setback, she ended up on the street.
"That's when I became homeless when I could not actually pay any of my bills and could not pay any more of my rent." At the time, she told reporters she was sleeping on cardboard in a parking lot.
When she found out the subway video of her had become so popular, she said she just wanted to return to playing her music so she can get back on her feet.
"I will be so grateful to anyone who is trying to help me get off the streets and to have my own place and my instrument," Zamourka said.
Many locals commented on the video, sharing their own stories of interactions with Zamourka.
"I've seen her for years on the Metro. I heard her once singing 'Ave Maria' and thought it was a radio at first. Everyone has a story...this woman does too. I don't know why she's been homeless all these years, but she's a human being...that's all that matters," one person wrote.
"She's from Glendale. She loves animals and sings Like a Bird. She is multi-talented and very friendly and kind. Her name is Emily," another person wrote.
Others, however, took the video as a chance to call out the homelessness crisis in Southern California.
But with things looking up for Zamourka, hopefully there will soon be one less person having to live on the street.
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