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The Smooth Late Show with Martin Collins 10pm - 1am
17 June 2021, 15:07
Mike Yung became an overnight star when he appeared on America's Got Talent in 2018, but he had been entertaining commuters in New York for years.
The talented singer could be seen performing a variety of classic and original songs down in the New York City Subway as a busker. Sometimes with a band, sometimes a cappella. He had been doing it for 38 years by the time he appeared as a hopeful in America's Got Talent.
But Mike had lived a tough life on his way to fame in the late 2020s.
He had actually been signed to record label RCA at 14 years old, then called T Electric, alongside the likes of Etta James and Luther Vandross. However, it went bankrupt and sadly he never released any music.
He ended up having to support his family in the projects of Brownsville, while subway busking and doing various jobs. He said that he usually made around $30-40 a day singing for three hours.
His busking has also been dangerous. In total, he had been stabbed nine times by people trying to steal his money.
Thankfully, Mike finally got a stage to perform when he first auditioned in episode 6 of season 12 of America’s Got Talent. Mike sang 'Unchained Melody' with his guitarist Shunta Sakamoto.
Judge Simon Cowell gave him a standing ovation, and sent him to the quarter-finals, where he performed 'Thinking Out Loud' by Ed Sheeran.
He then made it through by viewers to the semi-finals, where he was eliminated. But by then he had chalked up millions of views on YouTube, and a whole new fanbase.
Mike later returned for American’s Got Talent: The Champions 2 in 2020, but didn't quite make it through to the next round.
But his dream was to always release his debut album, and it looks like he will soon get his wish. Mike launched a Kickstarter campaign to get I Will Never Give Up recorded and released, and it's on its way soon.
He has already released a couple of singles including covers of 'Unchained Melody' and 'A Change is Gonna Come', and he also teamed up with Dutch DJ Martin Garrix on the song 'Dreamer', which was a tribute to Mike's late wife Lydia, who had died earlier in 2018.
Mike can still be found performing on the New York Subway from time to time, and we hope he'll be bringing out his album and touring soon.