Gina Higginbotham Mother of Music Under NY

On September 29th we lost Gina Glaser Higginbotham. She was a champion of the arts, of music in public spaces and certainly of keeping music alive and thriving in the subway stations of NYC.  Gina along with her husband Tim (who still is tirelessly working as the MUNY consultant) started the Music Under New York program. What many people did not know is her own personal background as an incredibly talented folk artist in her own right.  As I post this my heart is heavy for Tim and his family at the loss of their dear Gina.  

Gina in one of her favorite places in the world, Venice.  I was always so excited to she her wearing one of my nycsubwaygirl t-shirts.

Gina in one of her favorite places in the world, Venice.  I was always so excited to she her wearing one of my nycsubwaygirl t-shirts.

Gina will be missed. As a member of MUNY since 1999 I was always in awe of Gina's ear and knowledge of music.  She championed music in public spaces and her tireless support for the program was clear every time we would connect during the annual audition process. Happy journey Gina.

A Busker's Life

I arrived at 34th st today at 12 and it was really cold (below freezing with a draft). It took me a while to set up.  As I was setting up a young boy and a woman stopped to talk to me wondering what I was doing. I told them I would be singing and playing the guitar.  The boy asked if I could sing God Bless America, which I did a weird version accapella (honestly could never remember the line "Thru the night with a light from above."

Then the woman asked if I would give the boy a t-shirt which I did, and asked him if I could take his picture.  Here it is:

I asked his name and he told me Duwan. I then asked him for an inspiration and he said "My Grandmother and God and SubwayGirl."  Really cute.  The woman I learned was his Aunt's name was Sha and her inspiration? "God, positive people, family, you. Seeing you down here doing this, keeping up on life, trying to make something happen, just a blessing, just a blessing."

I asked if Duwan would sing me a song and sang God Bless America, but not the version I sang.  He sang:

God Bless America, he says dat I can do anything I want

if I behave in class and go to college

'cause God is good."

What version is that I asked? and he replied it was his own. So he just freestyled the song right there in cold 34th st. station.

A guy walked up + asked me for $1 for a cup of coffee, which I let him take out of my tip box, where I always have a few dollars I put in beforehand. By my accounting I was down one t-shirt and $1 before I even started singing!. Then I sang and it was so cold that my breath fogged up my glasses and my finger tips were ice cold. I got tipped by a homeless guy $1, so I was back to earning $0. It was too cold too play, so I packed up and left the spot for the eager breakdancers who are always at the ready to take the spot no matter what the weather.  And immediately a crowd gathered.

Metro-card swipe cost me $2.50 moneywise it was not a good day, but the little bit of time that I was there was really inspiring.