REA Designer Ashley Lee writes about 2 unlikely musicians who inspire her – both have survived hardships in their lives, yet harbor great talent. Read more below and watch the videos to listen to their music.
On June 6, 2011, a shy 22-year-old in a plaid shirt stood onstage during the auditions for “Korea’s Got Talent.” He introduced himself as a manual laborer who had made a living selling gum and energy drinks for ten years; then moved both the judges and the audience during an exceptional performance of “Nella Fantasia.” As the audience learned more about his background and rough childhood, the more they cheered for him.
Here’s his story: Choi was abandoned in an orphanage at age three. He ran away from the abusive orphanage when he was five years old and lived on the streets alone, sleeping on stairs and in toilets. At age 8, he began delivering milk and newspapers in addition to working as a laborer to survive.
“Do you enjoy singing?” the Korea’s Got Talent judge asked him after his performance. Sung Bong Choi replied, “Rather then say ‘I sing because I enjoy it’, I like singing because it was the first thing I liked after living like a day-fly … I don’t sing that well but when I sing I become a different person.”
If this guy can still be passionate about something after his hard life, then so can we. Watch these videos of him singing:
Though coming from a completely different background, Denver-based Dred Scott is perhaps equally inspiring.
For 16 years, Scott has been performing on the streets of Denver—the same streets he calls his home. “I’ve lived everywhere from on the streets to in jails and prisons. I’ve done some things that I’m not that proud of at all. I’ve had a pretty hard road and everything,” Scott told CBS News.
Scott, whose real name is David Adebonojo, was born to Harvard and Yale-educated parents. He jumped around from boarding school in Nigeria to community college in Sacramento, California—then fell out of line with his parents’ plans for him when he was arrested for selling LSD at a Grateful Dead concert in the 1980s. Since then, he’s been homeless but sober, and playing music on the 16th Street Mall.
Local musician Tyler Ward happened to walk past Scott making music on the street and was impressed by the sound of Scott’s soulful, bluesy sound—a moment that neither will forget.
Ward told CBS News, “I was walking to my car and, all of a sudden, heard this voice from the corner of the street, and I was like, ‘What is that?’ And I walked over there. I stood there for about 20 minutes and I listened to Dred play music.”
Ward then gave Scott a chance by offering to shoot a video for his music website, which receives up to 700,000 hits per day. Since then, Scott’s cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain” has received over 600,000 views, with one viewer commenting, “He’s way better than Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga combined.”
Ward said, “When you see someone with great talent who’s kind of living on the streets, you’re just kind of like, what can you do to help instead of just giving him a buck or two? Let’s see if you can really change his life, and that, to me, it’s rewarding.”
Here’s a video of Scott performing “Purple Rain”: