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Viral subway busker Mike Yung raises $65k for debut LP, signs to big booking agency

Mike Yung

If you take NYC subways or have seen any of his viral videos, you may already be familiar with the powerful, soulful voice of Mike Yung. Yung said in an interview with Pitchfork that he was signed to RCA Records as a teenager in 1975, and was supposed to release his debut album on T-Electric Records (also home to Etta James) in 1980, but it never happened, and he’s been busking in subways ever since, never letting anything stop him. “I have been stabbed 9 times, jumped by gangs, and spent the past 38 years busking to support my family in the projects of Brownsville,” he says. Nearly 40 years later, Yung’s voice has begun to make an impact outside of the subway stations. Videos of him singing have gone viral and racked up millions of views, and he’s been featured on America’s Got Talent and The Late Late Show with James Corden.

Yung released his first original song in January 2018, “Alright,” which hearkens right back to the era of ’70s soul that Yung got his start in, and still sounds great today. It’s a similar story to Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley and Lee Fields, and if you’re a fan of those artists (or classic soul in general), you should definitely check out “Alright.” It’s great stuff.

Yung is currently raising money on Kickstarter to finally release his debut album, which is called Never Give Up. He’s currently at $64,522 of his $75,000 goal. You can watch the very inspiring Kickstarter video below and donate to the album here.

Meanwhile, the latest news is that Mike Yung has been picked up by Paradigm Agency, the big booking agency that’s home to tons of huge acts. He’ll be announcing his first NYC show soon. Stay tuned.

Here’s more from that Pitchfork story:

“I met [producer Teddy Vann] at Harlequin Studios in 1975, when I was 15, and he got me a contract with RCA Records in 1975 with a guy named Ron Moseley,” Yung says. “Then I went to CBS, at 18. Then I got another contract with Jim Tyrell, who started a company called T-Electric. He signed Etta James, he signed Love Committee, and he signed Mike Yung.”

Tyrell, a former vice-president at CBS Records (now Sony), founded T-Electric Records in 1979. The label released Etta James’ album Changes in 1980, and according to Yung, his own album was next on the docket. But the moment never came. “Something went wrong, and Tyrell didn’t get to do my album before he went bankrupt,” he says, adding that Vann never was able to help him secure another deal. “Nothing came of that. But you continue to do what you can do to pay your bills and keep your head from going insane.”

Watch a bunch of Mike Yung’s videos:

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