Carolina Slim appeared at Avery Fisher Hall once, but mostly he plugged in his guitar and performed underground. Not in one of those clubs in a subbasement with a two-drink minimum. In subway stations.
His real name was Elijah Staley, and for more than 20 years, he was a mainstay of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Music Under New York program, which arranges performances in subway stations. Union Square, Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, Bowling Green, Columbus Circle — he happily turned them into blues halls.
“He set a very high bar,” said Tim Higginbotham, a consultant who handles day-to-day scheduling for Music Under New York, which dates to the mid-1980s.
Mr. Staley died on Sunday in Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens. He was 87. His funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday at Merrick Park Baptist Church, in Jamaica. The closest subway stop is Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer on the E line, about two miles away.
“People think I got to play in the subway,” he said in an interview in 2002. “I don’t got to play in the subway. I want to play in the subway.”
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