LOS ANGELES (AP/FOX 11) - A homeless woman whose angelic singing in a Los Angeles subway was captured on video is being offered praise and help, and she was invited this weekend to perform at an official Los Angeles city event.
On Saturday afternoon, thousands of people gathered in the area of 6th St. between Centre and Palo Verdes St. for an annual block party hosted by Councilmember Joe Buscaino to kick off a Little Italy Celebration. The councilman asked Emily Zamourka to sing.
"Thank you so much for all that is happening now. I really thank you, I'm so overwhelmed," she said.
Zamourka's voice went viral this month after a police officer posted a video of her singing in the subway on Twitter. The 52-year-old woman was clutching a push cart and bags full of her possessions as she sang Puccini in a Koreatown subway.
The video has been viewed more than 800,000 times.
Zamourka told the Los Angeles Times that she came to the United States at age 24 from Russia, where she learned violin and piano. She lived and worked in Missouri and in Washington state, where she offered piano lessons.
Zamourka said in 2005, she suffered serious health problems from a failing pancreas and liver and had to be hospitalized. She eventually returned to teaching music in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale and played violin on the streets for extra money.
But several years ago, the violin, which Zamourka said was worth thousands of dollars, was snatched and broken.
"It was my income," Zamourka told KNBC-TV. "It was everything to me."
Zamourka told KABC-TV that she played an electric violin for a while until someone pushed her off a bus and fractured her wrist.
Zamourka said she fell behind on rent and was evicted.
"I am sleeping actually on the cardboard right now, in the parking lot," she said. "I am sleeping where I can sleep ... I have people that feel sorry for me, but I don't want to be a burden to anybody."
Without her violin, Zamourka took to singing for a living in addition to receiving $400 a month in government aid, the Times said.
Zamourka has no classical training, but she told the Times she used to imitate opera singers as a child in Russia.
She likes the acoustics of the subway tunnels.
"You know why I do it in the subway?" Zamourka told KNBC-TV. "Because it sounds so great."
Zamourka has had many offers of free violins as well. But she declined them, saying she wants to play a violin as special as the one that was destroyed, KABC-TV reported.
One GoFundMe account is dedicated to buying her a new instrument.
Meanwhile, after Zamourka's performance went viral, people have moved to help her find long-term housing.
People also have been stopping in the subway to photograph her or give her kind words.
The support and recognition are "a miracle," Zamourka said.