It's likely you've heard Mike Yung before in the subway, even if you don't know his name.
The 58-year-old with the huge voice -- a voice so powerful he was scouted for America's Got Talent (and made it to the semi-finals) -- has been busking in the New York City subway for 38 years. He's been stabbed nine times and jumped many more, and he averages less than $50 per day in donations.
But now he's asking the public for a little more than quarters: $75,000 to be exact, through Kickstarter, to finally release his debut album. And since launching the fundraiser on March 2, Yung is already feeling the love from his fellow New Yorkers and fans with more than $36,000 raised. His followers have also come out in force on social media, with the popular Instagram account Subway Creatures taking on his cause, racking up hundreds of thousands of views of his subway performances.
Life has had its challenges for Yung, his Kickstarter says, with opportunity being ripped away at many turns.
"I was signed to RCA at 14, then T.Electric with the likes of Etta James and Luther Vandross. The label went bankrupt and I never got my debut album out," Yung said. "I've spent the past 38 years in the subway busking and making a living while supporting a family in the projects of Brownsville."
Last August Yung was scouted for "America's Got Talent," where he made it to the semi-finals. Videos of Mike get hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of views on social media. But his manager Danny says exposure has not led to a paycheck.
"While the agents book the shows and the business managers oversee the finances, there is nothing they can do without an album. Mike has an incredible voice, but he hasn't been given a shot yet," he said.
Danny said, with h people carrying less and less cash these days, Yung makes an average of $40 per day. He usually sings for 3-4 hours or until his voice goes out. "Lately he's been getting more hugs than tips."
Danny said his managers were now on their final attempt to get the album out. "To be brutally honest... everything is riding on this kickstarter," he said.
The money raised would go to funding Yung's debut album, "Never Give Up," and a documentary on the singer.