D.C.

Metro artists compete to take talent to the tracks

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Local artists are taking their talents not to the stage, but to the Metro. They’re auditioning for a shot at becoming street performers outside several stations this summer.

Dozens were given just three minutes Tuesday night to sell themselves as stars. Guitarists, dancers, and even storytellers want to perk up your boring commute by taking their talent to the tracks.

“Everybody rides the Metro! Who is no riding the Metro? I have a SmartTrip right now in my back pocket. That is like the easiest way to get your music out there,” says Awesome Rita of the Coolots Band.

Metro first invited artists outside stations in 2007.

“D.C. is such a lively place for the arts,” says Michael McBride, the manager of Metro Art in Transit.

Originally, performers were paid a few hundred dollars per show, a gift from local arts councils. That money has since dried up.

Just like last summer, no performer will pocket a penny.

“You want to provide them with some level of compensation, but many of them, they just want to share their gifts,” McBride says.

“Performing sort of is in my blood,” says Andy Fox, a guitarist.

Fox says sharing his music with some of Metro’s 700,000 riders would be priceless. The telecommunications expert is currently unemployed and could benefit from a big break.

“I actually tried earlier in the season, kind of one of the very first warm days I went down to the Metro myself and I decided to strum and sing a little bit and it went really well,” he says.

The Rose sisters have one goal – to share their talent with the world. They attend the Arts and Technology Academy in Northwest D.C. and started getting their groove on after a talent show three years ago.

“[You're] scared, but once you get into the music you just flow with it,” says Zelah Rose. 

With a love for art, they hope commuters can take a moment and appreciate.

Metro can choose as many artists as they want to perform. Those performances kick off later this month at station entrances and run through September. Artists are not allowed to set up tip jars.

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