Beshert | The Crooner in the Station

By | Jul 15, 2022
Beshert, Latest

As Beshert’s editor, I’m often asked: “Are coincidences beshert?”

Well, you tell me. Many years ago, when I had a job that often took me to New York, I was an Amtrak regular. This was back in the Dim Ages before both Acela speed trains and the Quiet Car. So you can bet that after three hours and twenty minutes of listening to a cacophony of conversations on 2G cell phones, I’d be in a pretty bad mood.

By the time I got to New York, I couldn’t wait to get off that train.

I still had to navigate the taxi line and a long ride in traffic to my hotel. Bedraggled, hungry and lifting my too-heavy overnight bag one laborious step at a time up the stairs to the main lobby, I felt claustrophobic and lead-footed in the throng.

Halfway up the stairs, I heard the most beautiful singing from above. Not heaven, the ticket hall.

The voice was male, euphonious and soulful. It was so magnificent that I started to feel my heart lift before I got to the top of the stairs. Emerging into the hall’s glare, I spotted the young man with his guitar. He was tall, slender, and wore a cowboy hat over dark hair. I guessed he was in his twenties. A small crowd had gathered around him. He was mesmerizing. I stayed for four songs, all original compositions. My stress was gone. I was in awe.

His friend stood nearby, next to a table of CDs, $10 each. I bought one. Simple graphics with his name and an exclamation mark: “DREW!”

Deeply affected by his singing, I had to remind myself to get going. My serenity lasted until I had to think about work. But for many months, I played that CD over and over and marveled at the unknown busker’s voice singing his songs, feeling stress fall away as it had the day I ascended the stairs from the train platform to the higher level.

A year later, I was again in New York, this time for a family event. At breakfast in a diner with my aunt, uncle and mother, the talk turned to our relatives. My mother and aunt were catching up on news about their first cousins: were everyone’s kids giving them naches or aggravation?

“How’s Rhoda?” my mother asked. And my aunt replied, “Her son Drew sings in the subways and at train stations.”

Wait, WHAT?!

That’s how I found out that Drew was my second cousin.

What to make of this? Was the coincidence beshert? To what end? Was there some kind of primal, blood or DNA attraction that led me to his music? Would I not have noticed and kept hurrying to the taxi line outside if we weren’t related?

I have no idea. And it’s not like we then connected in person and became besties. Didn’t happen.

But I’ve never been able to get this convergence of souls out of my mind. So, on June 29th of this year, I wrote this story, wondering, was this a beshert that hadn’t been given its due? On July 1, I casually asked my mother if she knew what had become of Cousin Rhoda’s singer son. She did. Drew had died on April 14, 2022 of undetermined causes, ten weeks before his 62nd birthday—on July 1.

Was all this a coincidence? It doesn’t matter. Beshert is strange magic in every form.  

Today it’s a tribute to the music that moves us, that connects us as family—sometimes literally. Thank you, Drew Alan Kaufman, of blessed memory.

To listen to “Mi Vida,” recorded by Drew before he passed, click the play button below.


Pam Janis is Moment’s Beshert editor and an author, speechwriter and journalist in Washington, DC. Drew Kaufman made music in New York and Austin, Texas before he passed on April 14, 2022. Read how he delighted audiences in this New York Times article from 1987.

Moment thanks Drew’s brothers, Wayne and Reese Kaufman, for sharing his songs and photos. May his memory be a blessing.

11 thoughts on “Beshert | The Crooner in the Station

  1. Gail Duberchin says:

    So glad your intuition led you to buy the CD, so Drew’s voice could live on. That, too, was bashert. No one knows when our last day will arrive so live, as Drew did, to the fullest. Why was he never signed to a label? I wonder. His voice is magical Thank you.

  2. Gerald Lebowitz says:

    A beautifully written piece of reminiscence which was never exposed to the light of reality. There’s no way of knowing what might have happened had you both met, but since you never really did, you can fantasize all you like. Just as gold ‘s value is determined by its rarity, things that never happened can be embellished all one likes, kept pure by non-exposure. Everything is beshert, and you two were not meant to meet except, perhaps, in dreams which can never grow old. But you’re a wonderful writer, and you certainly spin magic. Thank you.

  3. Wow, what a talent. Beautiful voice, great song. Shame he left us at such a young age.

  4. david b ferraro says:

    I grew up with Drew in Bayside, Queens, NYC- he was best friends w my brother John, a bassist, and they would write, jam and play in bands together for a long time. They made some Great music and memories for me. He was well known in these parts. I always loved his upbeat attitude and vocal style. A few times my friends and I would be kicking around Manhattan and run into Drew by chance, gigging on the streets to enthusiastic crowds. He would ask us to ‘stick around’ as he would take in a lot of cash that some street thugs would notice. I remember steak dinners and drinks a few different times.
    A great talent and an awesome guy all around!

  5. Bradley j Hirsch says:

    What a great piece you wrote. I grew up in Queens NY and knew Drew during my high school years into my early twenties. He was in a band with some other friends and we all thought he’d be a star one day. Back in the 80’s I worked in Manhattan and I could tell from a block away that it was Drew playing on the street somewhere in the city. It was always great to run into him. I recently found out that he had passed. I still enjoy listening to a few early recordings I have on my phone. Thanks again for sharing this and glad you got to hear him sing.

  6. Frank Horvath says:

    A friend’s recent email reminded me of times when I lived in NYC. I met Drew when we both lived at the Spencer Arms Hotel, an SRO, in the 80’s. We were about the same age. I remember Drew playing in Central Park drawing large crowds. While many such musicians used loud generators to power their instruments and speakers, Drew used RV batteries so his music was more enjoyable. He was very talented. I remember after a large event in the Park which drew tens of thousands of New Yorkers, he set up on Columbus Avenue behind the Museum of Natural History and started playing for the crowd streaming out of the Park. The size of the crowd grew until it nearly blocked Columbus Avenue. Eventually the police, present in numbers, broke up the crowd. Back in our hotel, I helped Drew count his earnings. In less than an hour he made hundreds of dollars. That’s how talented he was and that’s how smart he was.

    I”m saddened that he’s not with us any more and would like to know what happened to him

  7. Melisa Villano says:

    I was cleaning out my photos and music collection for a move and came across the two cherished cassette tapes I remember buying on the occasions that I had been blessed to run into drew and his guitar in the subway at penn station. Unfortunately there is not much personalized info on them. So grateful to have found this article! And heartbroken to hear that drew passed away. He was a gifted singer and he touched my soul.

  8. Julie says:

    I knew Drew quite well back in the day. Yes I did and the memories are wonderful. I met him in Grand Central Station and yes his voice stung me to my core.
    Every year or so I google his name to find out where he is. I looked him up again today and I am deeply saddened to hear of Drew’s passing. My intent has always been to reconnect with him. God bless him and may be rest in peace.

  9. Deb M says:

    Hello Pam, thank you for this wonderful article and news about Drew. I knew and cared deeply for Drew many years ago. He sang this song to me many times during our time together. He was sweet, kind and extremely talented with a wonderful smile. How I wish he had been able to fulfill his dreams with his music. It would mean so much to me to have a copy of his music, or at the very least Mi Vida. I moved to Europe and somehow no longer have any copies of his music, to my regret. I am back in the states and would be grateful to have his music to hold with some really lovely memories. I’m so saddened that he is no longer with us.

    1. Deb M says:

      I found Drew’s album on Apple Music. It’s luu it stefania under Drew K – All the Old Stuff Complete

  10. Jacqueline Rivera says:

    I remember Drew on my commute home from work singing in subway stations. The Drew I remember would also sing “Imagine” and “Three Times a Lady”. I thought he should compete in Star Search! I am saddened to hear of his passing.

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