An upcoming program in Manhattan is looking to change your perception of subway buskers.
Since 1987, the MTA’s Music Under New York program has sought to make the daily commute for millions of New Yorkers a little brighter by recruiting performers from a wide array of musical stylings to entertain around the city.
“Our programs are to enhance the environment for the commuter and encourage the use of transit,” said Lydia Bradshaw, manager at MTA Arts & Design. “You just never know what kinds of exciting acts you’ll discover while riding the subway.”
And in honor of the program’s 30th anniversary, the agency has teamed up with the New York Transit Museum to offer an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to perform in the largest transportation system in the country.
“We wanted to take a moment to appreciate the program and to hear the perspectives from the artists who are in the subway every day,” said Shaelyn Amaio, the museum’s public program producer.
Those who attend Tuesday night’s panel at the transit museum will get to chat with two subway performers who were selected to be part of the program through an audition process.
Sean Grissom, one of two artists who will be featured, has been grooving in the subway system with his electric cello since the program’s inception. And while he loves bringing the sounds of “Cajun cello” to the streets and subway platforms of the city, he has also performed at prestigious institutions like the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at major events including the U.S. Open Tennis tournament.
A relative newcomer to the program, Azusa SHESHE Dance, will also be in attendance. The blues singer with gospel roots was accepted into the MTA’s program in 2016 and she just celebrated her first full year living in New York City.
More than 335 people auditioned for the chance to be a part of the 2017 Music Under New York program – a record year, due in most part to the option of online submissions for the first time, Bradshaw said.
Throughout the year, program organizers work with the chosen artists to set up a whopping 7,500 performances in over 30 visible locations around the city.
“Every year is unique and it’s all about the culture of New York City,” Bradshaw added.
Although the artists are not paid for their performances, in true busking fashion, they are able to accept tips.
Tickets for the Making Music Under New York are still available and can be purchased online. The event will be held on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the New York Transit Museum at the corner of Boerum Place & Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn.