Being a street musician can be thankless work. Many times, people just walk right by without pausing to notice or enjoy the musical talents of the performer who’s putting themselves on display. For Boston street musician Radha Rao, her focus has always been about impacting people and connecting with them in a meaningful way and she did so with a bona fide pop superstar who happened to see her in action recently.
When Rao sat down at her keyboard at her usual spot at Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace on Oct. 17, her only goal was to give shoppers passing by her best performance and put her whole heart into her songs — but she got quite a shock when none other than John Legend happened to walk by and join her audience. Especially because she was singing on of his own songs at the time!
In disbelief, Rao noticed Legend but kept on singing “All of Me,” as the man who made it famous paused to enjoy her rendition.
Throughout the performance, the 42-year-old Grammy winner (who was shopping with his kids in tow) stopped to clap and smile approvingly at the young musician. Rao shared a video of her amazing experience on Instagram, writing, “street performing [at Faneuil Hall] has given me some of the most spontaneous life experiences – grateful to have gotten the opportunity to sing for the incredible @johnlegend and his family today.”
Another clip in the post shows Legend walking up and giving her a tip and then a hug.
The post quickly garnered thousands of likes. A couple days later, Rao shared another video of her once-in-a-lifetime performance for Legend. In the video, Legend grins as he listens to her playing the tune.
“To me, it feels like a mix of divine timing and luck,” Rao wrote in the second post. “Several times a month, I perform my two-hour set – a mix of R&B, soul, pop, and my own originals, ‘All of Me’ is part of my regular set, and this Sunday feels like a gratifying step in my creative journey as I continue to seek out growth and deepen my artistry in the Boston scene and beyond.”
She went on to share screenshots of headlines from stories about the viral moment published by news outlets worldwide, including ones from People and Japan Today.
Rao says that the beloved musician was very encouraging to her. Rao says that Legend “expressed a lot of encouragement towards my voice and the fact that he was very honored that I sang his song.”