There are some songs that are so recognizable and soulful that they can stop you in your tracks.
Songs like this can either take you back to a specific moment or your life or bring you screaming into the present. Generally speaking, these are songs that are widely accepted as some of the best ones ever written in English—and many of them have already stood the tests of time. In particular, one of those songs is “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.
And this incredible performance showed just how galvanizing that song can be.
Like so many of these great street performances, this one took place on the subways in New York City.
The performer in question is Mike Yung, a street performer who is pretty recognizable on the streets of NYC. As the video begins, there are a few strums on the guitar before the drummer starts up with the back beat.
After that Yung, lets out the howling, soulful first notes of Cooke’s famous song. Immediately, it’s clear that Yung has some incredible vocal talent—and he’s eager to share it with the whole world.
As the song goes on, the performance only gets better and better.
Although it’s definitely a cover, the best thing about the performance is how Yung makes it his own.
Rather than follow the notes just as they were sung originally, Yung experiments with his own vocal runs and his own rhythmic variations. Before long, at least a few people are stopping to watch him perform.
Many come up and drop money in his hat—and one woman even runs up to give him a big hug.
As a train comes by, Yung and his band set into the second verse.
By the end of the song, it’s clear that Yung truly has one of the most soulful voices anyone has heard in a long time.
Although his performance didn’t get a ton of attention that day, it was certainly noticed on the internet. This video in particular has been viewed millions of times—but it also led to way more exposure for Yung. Beyond this clip, there are also videos online of Yung doing other classic soul songs on the subway, one of them including “Unchained Melody,” originally performed by the Righteous Brothers:
After generating so much buzz, Yung made a play for a bigger stage—namely by auditioning on America’s Got Talent!
After an introduction, he explains how he quit his job to do vocal performances on the subway. Needless to say, nobody was more ready than Yung was to sing for all of America.
For his audition, Yung sings “Unchained Melody” again—and as always, his delivery and his soulfulness are absolutely contagious. As the song goes on, his voice grows and grows in power.
By the end, the whole crowd roars and gives him a standing ovation.
Although Yung didn’t win his season of AGT, the exposure has only helped him grow his musical brand.
Today, Yung’s Facebook page has nearly a quarter million likes—and he’s gone on to perform with the likes of Martin Garrix! To date, he has released both an EP and a full-length album… and we’re sure to only expect more and more greatness from him over the years. If you were moved by these performances, be sure to stream his music on Spotify and Apple Music!
Congratulations to Mike Yung on following his musical dreams! Watch the full song in the video below:
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