This week, Jay-Z released a mini-documentary all about what went into his eight night residency at Barclays Center this fall. By far, the highlight of the whole thing was when Jay-Z rode the subway to get to the last show, and met artist Ellen Grossman, who didn't know who he was. The 67-year-old Grossman has now become an overnight internet sensation—she told the Daily News what she thought was really going on that day on the R train: “I thought it was a flashmob. I thought it might have been a stunt — something goofy."
Grossman, who was on her way to Park Slope to meet a friend, further explained to Tablet what she thought might have been happening:
It was a fairly sparsely populated subway car and I was alone on three seats. There was a surge of people at Canal Street and my son was in the World Trade Center disaster…but he survived, it’s alright, but we didn’t know that for several hours so that’s kind of present in our consciousness. So, at first, I thought ‘Oh God, something terrible has happened up on the street.’ But everyone was laughing and smiling so I thought, ‘What a relief!’ And I thought perhaps it was a flash mob.
But she was being honest about not knowing him: after meeting him, she had an assistant in the studio where she draws and sculpts make her a CD of his songs. She told Tablet she didn't have any favorite songs yet, but she loves how generous and "inclusive" he is with his collaborations. You can see a video of Grossman discussing her own art below.
Grossman told Daily Intel that she felt a connection with Jay-Z, and got to see the documentary early when she was asked to sign a waiver: "It was very energizing talking to Jay-Z. Just who he is, not having to do with all the cameras, but he really, genuinely spreads an aura of empowerment around him."
She added that since the clip took off, "my friends have all gotten in touch with me, and I have a zillion requests to be Facebook friends with people." One of those friends wrote a piece about Grossman for the Times .
To what does she attribute this new found celebrity? Given the economy, the wars and talk of the end of the world, “I think the world is in the mood for a sweet, old lady,”she said.