THE CIRCULAR

The Singing Voices of New York´s Subway Station

We saw and listened to them at one stage or another as we went about our day-to-day lives. While commuting to work, returning home from school, or maybe just going into town, street music has been around for decades and has brought many people to a halt as they enjoyed the sound.

It was 1904 when the first New York subway station opened its gates. Musicians from all over the city, following their passion, turned the subway platform into their stage, displaying their talent and entertaining the commuters. 

A decade later, YouTube and other Social Media Platforms have bridged the distance and brought people from all over the world closer, displaying masters at their craft. 

Alicia Tan Ridley and Mike Yung, who for decades sang and performed at New York’s subway station, were both given a chance to contest on the stage of America’s Got Talent and won the approval of the judges and the audience. 

Yung, who for more than 40 years has been singing at the subway station, received over 40 million views on YouTube after his cover of “Unchained Melody” was filmed and put online.

Almost impossible to believe that from 1904 to 1985, singing and entertaining in public was termed illegal. This changed when a man named Roger Manning appeared at court on September 10th, 1985, after being fined by the MTA Police for playing an instrument in public. 

Under Section 1051.3 of the constitution, this was termed as “Disorderly Conduct.”

The ruling judge at the time, Diane A Lebedeff, cleared him of all charges as under the First and Fourteenth Amendments singing and entertaining in public did not violate the constitution.

“People say a lot of really important things, to let you know it’s not just a subway. It’s what you bring to the subway.” Yung stated during an interview

And while he is still working on his first album, he has continued to do what he knows best: sing.

By Adina Sarah Abraham

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