Musicians return to subway stations, another sign of city recovery

Local News

MIDTOWN, Manhattan — The subway buskers are back.

After a 14-and-a-half-month sabbatical because of the pandemic, the official music program of the MTA has returned.

And when was the last time you saw a lady playing a saw in the subway?

Natalia Paruz has been playing her saw in the Herald and Union Square subway stations for more than20 years — until COVID shut down the official MTA Music under New York program.

“I am foremost a subway musician,” Natalia Paruz, the Saw Lady, told PIX11 News. “When it was taken away from me because of the pandemic, it’s not like my job was taken away from me. It was like my identity was taken away from me.”

The MTA’s Music Under New York program was started in 1985 with more that 350 acts and roughly 12,000 performances a year — from a classical and pop violinist to a talented trumpet player, a Cajun cellist and a New Orleans blues keyboardist.

New Yorkers and tourists alike seemed to love what they’re hearing.

Yesenia Stevens, a tourist from Alabama, said they didn’t have a saw lady.

Only 15 acts officially resumed in the MTA program Friday, but so many other musicians are waiting for the chance to audition.

“It would be good to be recognized. The recognition,” Shane Dan Turner, a guitarist, told PIX11 News.

“I love to entertain people. Take away their stress and make them happy.” Anthony, a steel drum player, told PIX11 News.

And clearly not all these musicians do it just for the money.

On a good day, the saw lady says she earns just enough to buy a couple of drinks at a bar.

“It’s not about the money,” Paruz told PIX11 News. “It’s the love of people and sharing music with people and about being an integral part of the city.”

Many people say if the Saw Lady is back, it seems like the city is coming back as well.

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