Cultural Encounter

I had just gotten out of my Sociology class at 5:25 pm when I and one of my classmates met up to travel to the New York City Center. It was dark and raining outside when we left Baruch. So, we journeyed to the subway station because walking for too long in the rain would not have been a very enjoyable experience.

Waiting for the train to come took only a few short minutes and we were on the train and on our way. After two stops, a woman stepped on. She was African American wearing relatively tattered clothing. Five seconds after the doors shut, she spoke loudly for the whole car to hear, “Hello ladies and gentlemen. I am going to perform a song for you and if you like it then clap, and if you don’t then just ignore me. Thank you all very much.” And so, she began to sing. Now this is a relatively new experience for me, but it probably is not for any of you. Remember, I really haven’t taken the subway often…

Anyway, the woman sang “Someone Like You” by Adele. In my opinion, she sang the song better than the original… There wasn’t any more high notes and her voice was good, but not amazing. It was just the way that she sang that got me. I thought the woman was going to break down and cry at the end of the song because her voice sounded so heartbroken. It amazes me the talent that is lost in subway stations…

> (Sipkin/News )

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5 Responses to Cultural Encounter

  1. chriswoo says:

    I’m surprised that she didn’t ask for money afterwards? Or did she? Because normally subway performers stick a cup in your face rather than ask for applause! But you’ll get used to these kind of things on the subway, from breakdancing kids to mariachi bands, and some performers are better than others.

  2. Joseph Maugeri says:

    I’m actually not sure, for most of her performance my back was turned. She may have or may not have, I really couldn’t tell you. I can tell you there was no cup in my face.

  3. John Scanlon says:

    Normally these subway performers are seeking a monetary incentive for their talent, whatever their talent may be. Like Chris, I was surprised when she didn’t ask for any money or have a hat in front of her to place money.

    I had a similar experience like this when I went to the Feast of San Gennaro two weeks ago with two friends from high school. A man, waiting for the subway, stopped us and asked us if we had any songs for him to play. My friend requested he perform Drops of Jupiter by Train, which he did for us. At the end, we all gave him a dollar because he performed the song extremely well and he made the end of our night quite eventful.

  4. Gen Hua Tan says:

    Asking for money after a performance is typical – which might be why many people pretends to not listen or see what’s going if someone or some group performs. I remembered that I used to paid attention to the unusual performances in the subways but not I just ignore them completely, especially trying to not make eye contact because I would feel guilty for listening/watching a performance without compensating their work (I usually don’t carry money). It’s quite sad that many people had to resort to this method to earn some pocket money knowing that anywhere else other than the subways, people can and will simply walk away.

  5. Luke O'Dowd says:

    Although I have only been in New York for about 2 months, I have seen many different performers in the subway. Most seem to perform a song or play a guitar, and then at the the end they ask for donations. Rarely, someone performs for free, just for the opportunity to have an audience for their rendition. It is these performers that are most fun to spectate.

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