When we think of singers, we either imagine struggling musicians or glittering celebrities. It’s either fame and fortune or destitution. TV contests like The Voice or the X Factor show us that many people are desperate for their singing abilities to be discovered in the hopes of becoming a superstar. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it does make viewers anticipate singers on stage…and not on the streets.
But talent can be found anywhere. In this case, it was found in the streets. The source? An old gentleman with long, bushy hair, dressed in gray pants and a dirty button-up, belting out the high notes of the song “Hallelujah.” Sometimes accompanied by a guitarist with torn jeans, this busker stuns passersby with his powerful vocals.
A normal scenario in the streets involves poor homeless people extending their hands for alms or anything you can spare to help them get by. Sometimes, you see heart-wrenching signs on what the homeless will offer in return for food or a place to stay for the night. Well, one man decided to do his part in helping the homeless people on the streets.
His name is Herbie Russ, and he was seen pushing a trolley up and down the streets, sifting through garbage. Then, he and his guitarist stopped to sit under a tree in the middle of the city, and they started to serenade the public with their rendition of “Hallelujah.” Other times, Herbie was seen by the side of a busy street, his powerful voice carrying the song over the noise of the cars. Moved by his performance, people started putting money in his box.
But you wouldn’t believe what he did with the money and food he got from kind-hearted strangers. Herbie doesn’t do these things to earn food for himself. Instead, he gives to the homeless whatever he earns or gets that day.
And that’s because Herbie Russ is a professional singer, producer, songwriter, and saxophonist. In fact, you’ve probably heard his voice before — in commercials by General Motors, AT&T, the Ford Motor Company, and Fox Network. He even sang the Detroit Tigers anthem, “Home Again,” for Comerica Park.
With so much experience and many talents under his belt, you might be wondering why he’s walking around looking like a homeless guy. The answer lies in Herbie’s backstory. He was kicked out of his home when he was a teenager. He survived by playing for bands, sleeping on couches, and auditioning for acts on the road because they usually stayed in hotel rooms.
Eventually, Herbie turned to God and asked for direction. He had this great talent, but he didn’t know what to do with it and his life. God’s answer came in the form of a homeless shelter where Herbie offered to sing and play music for the residents. He was turned down. Instead of being disheartened, he was encouraged to do more gigs and use the money he earned to make the crumbling homeless shelter a better place to live in for other people.
He began to get better-paying gigs (and even auditioned on America’s Got Talent) but still continued to help the homeless. He gets many bookings for shows now but he still reminds himself that he should be grateful for the life he now enjoys. And this reminds us that we should use our talents for the greater good — to help people who are in more dire situations than us.
It’s amazing how Herbie uses powerful vocals to help the less fortunate. Get ready for chills!