If you occasionally pass through the Port Authority A, C, E subway station, you may have spotted Uriah Roman. He is a sixth grader in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and a budding singer. He has a slightly creaky voice (cut him a break, Simon, he’s twelve) but sings with total conviction.
He was there Tuesday night, belting out “Grenade,” by Bruno Mars, one of ten or so songs he said he taught himself by watching YouTube.
“I’m like a little nervous,” he told The Observer. It was his fourth time playing for straphangers. “People are reacting like, Wow,” he said. “Maybe they’ve never seen a little kid playing keyboards and singing out loud.”
The money—he makes around $75 in three hours—goes partly toward activities, and partly toward supporting his family. “His mom and I are going through financial struggles,” admitted Uriah’s stepfather, Jeffrey Rosario, 31, a plumber and carpenter who has had trouble finding work since being released from prison after a 10-year bid for armed robbery. “We have three kids, and they love to eat.”
Uriah has been playing for four or five years. A few weeks ago, recalled his mother, Julisa Roman, “He was like, ‘Mommy, you know, I want the people to know who I am.’ And I said, if you’re ready I’m behind you all the way. Let’s go.’ He’s got an open heart.”
She recalled that when she was pregnant with Uriah, she used to place headphones on her belly, and he’d move around.
Uriah flated an additional explanation for his talent. “I was born in the year 2000,” he said. “That’s when everything started hitting!”