It was December 2013 when the Sarasota Keys Project launched a program that aims to bring an interactive music and art to the streets of Sarasota, a city located in the southwestern part of the Sarasota County in the US state of Florida, but what is aimed to be simple program brought out a success story that is simply heartwarming and even went viral.
Dressed untidily, wearing a black singlet and a rugged pair of pants, homeless man Donald Gould, sat in front of one of the pianos installed by the Sarasota Keys project, and when he started pressing the keys, minutes of good music was heard.
Aroar Natasha took a video of the man and posted it on her Facebook account. Not even a month after it was posted, the video has now been watched more than four million times. Donald was interviewed a day after and shared a bit of his story.
Donald is a former US Marine Corps soldier and said he played the clarinet when he was on service. He took off from the camp and felt the need to look for another job. He went back to college but cut three semesters short when he ran out of money, and eventually, his wife left him. He suffered from substance abuse, and the Social Service took his son. Donald now stays in the streets of Sarasota.
Donald said that he has quite a background in music as he played a few even since his high-school years. When he was in college, Donald studied music theory and learned to play ‘every instrument.’ He said that he just wanted to play good music and receive a few tips. He wasn’t expecting that his story and talent would touch many people’s hearts.
Donald sits before the piano to play five songs every day for the passers-by. He played songs like Styx’s “Come Sail Away”, Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” and Bach’s “Toccata.” A woman remarked that these songs can be so hard to learn, and Donald agreed.
Donald’s story has spread like fire. When his story was featured in News Channel 8, viewer Mike McCall knew of the man’s passion for music and his desire to play clarinet. he then gifted the man with the same instrument.
Donald is reported to be now playing in some gigs with fellow musical Paul Leonard. A local bar is also considering to hire Donald after they saw his viral video. Indeed, one’s talent, if shown confidently, can take him farther than he expected.
Here are videos of Donald playing a song and an interview with him.
Here is the story of this man getting a makeover: Homeless Piano Virtuoso Gets a Life-Changing Makeover