Thursday, October 3, 2019

Story of Hope: Emily Zamourka: The LA Homeless Subway Soprano ...

... just landed a recording contract :)   

If you haven't seen it yet, grab your tissue and be prepared to be moved to tears - it's beautiful :) 

This all began when an LAPD officer filmed 52-year-old, Emily Zamourka, a homeless woman, singing Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" from his phone and the LAPD posted this to their website.   She says she likes to sing in the subway because of the acoustics :)

Amen :)

For some reason, not knowing her full story - she calls to my mind "Fantine" from "Les Miserables." 

She says she came to America from Russia to study to be an opera singer, but things did not quite work out the way she imagined, as is often the case - especially in LA.

After Trump has essentially declared war on/demonized homeless people, it's nice to see the real face of the homeless - they are not always addicted, crazy, lazy people as they've been demonized. Sometimes they're homeless after abuse or trauma, too.

But often, there are still many, many people living paycheck to paycheck, and thus are just one paycheck away from homelessness.

Some are saying it's not a true story, just based on how clean/well-kempt she is. I say it's possible - but it's also true you can't always tell someone is homeless just from looking. 

I speak from experience -  I was homeless for 8 months during the recession myself - and I wasn't alone.

Shelters were full of people just like me, whose jobs were outsourced or they were laid off during the recession or who'd homes had been foreclosed upon - and you would've never known we were homeless to look at us.    

During the recession, other than being traumatized by these losses and the general experience of being homeless, these people were not crazy or addicted. At a time where families all were moving in together out of necessity, they either didn't have family or just didn't want to burden family and friends at all or for too long, if they couldn't find full-time work quickly. 

(In fact, I lived with a friend myself for 3 months first, but left and chose to be homeless -  fearing I was an extra burden at a time they were already burdened themselves.)

And 80% of them were either going to school or working, actually - menial jobs, part-time, because people were only hiring part-time during the recession - which was not enough to pay the rent. 

I hid that I was homeless to work except to my boss, already knowing the assumptions people make (proven when one person found out and I became news, and not in a good way). 

I was lucky - I scrapped together enough to get a deposit and find a roommate who was from New York City, hit hard by the recession herself in need of a roommate, and familiar with homelessness not being what people think.  The struggle wasn't over financially for either of us, but it was the beginning of the way out.

Three months later, I reluctantly began dating (slowly) my future husband, who had been a former CIO for a public school district in Detroit, who had moved here to horse country, when a series of repeated school budget cuts came, first cutting his staff and then his salary little by little  (under Betsy Devos' influence) - and knew himself how quickly it can all go, despite having a master's degree.

Then,  year later, we were living together - married in 2016 - and a very happy ending now :)

And IMO, by the looks of things, with the mortgage loan restrictions removed again  and corporate tax shelters greater than ever before, despite Trump singing a great economy, it's clearly not trickling down on the middle/lower classes, there are still many living paycheck to paycheck and medical insurance not paying enough on bills  - I think we're headed for another recession - probably by the time the next POTUS is in office, left holding the bag.

Don't forget, though homelessness is most often temporary, it's very difficult to get back up and LA is a trap - housing in California in general is astronomical, and once you get down, the odds are against you ever getting back up or getting out of the city - but also true is that many a celebrity today has once been homeless in LA, NY, and Nashville, too. 

BTW, they do shower at shelters and wash clothes there and often sleep there, if not full. 

Speaking of which, naysayers - supposedly it's legit - but keep in mind, this is per local politicians and record producers, who claim they doubted the story, too, but were impressed with her talent and wished to meet her - and they ended up having trouble tracking her down again, at first, but did find her on the streets. 

She's a bit overwhelmed with the sudden attention, at present (naturally) - don't forget the experience of homelessness is a trauma in and of itself - but I'm sure we will see her again soon :)

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