American society has marginalized the homeless, dismissing them as dirty, drug-addled vagrants. However, there’s always that one person who shows society that you can’t judge a book by its cover. In this case, it’s Donald “Boone” Gould of Sarasota, Florida, reported Addicting Info.
The Sarasota Arts and Culture Alliance launched its “Sarasota Keys” project last year and put six pianos around the city of Sarasota. The pianos are open to the public and Boone became an internet sensation when a video of him playing a beautiful rendition of Styx’s “Come Sail Away” went viral.
Despite Boone’s talents, his story is heartbreaking and tragic.
Boone is a formally-trained musician and military veteran who studied music education at Spring Arbor University in Michigan. However, he ran out of money and dropped out three semesters before graduating. He began working and started a family.
In 1998, Boone’s wife died, and he fell into a destructive pattern of substance abuse to cope with the loss. Boone and his late wife had a three-year-old, who Boone lost to the state.
Boone’s magnificent playing became popular among Sarasota residents, and he developed a reputation in the area.
“I was thinking I could just put my hat on the piano and make a couple [of] dollars and get tips,” Boone told ABC 7 in Sarasota. “I didn’t expect it to jump out to this.”
A once-aspiring music teacher, Boone loves when children sit next to him at the piano because he gets to teach them a few notes. “I say ‘just hit the white keys, you can’t screw up,’” he said. “It doesn’t matter how they play, if they play crappy or good, I always clap for them. I’m a nurturer, I’m a teacher.”
Boone’s story can teach everyone something about the homeless. They generally aren’t the lazy bums that society portrays them to be. Most homeless people are good, smart people who fell on hard times and are trying to find their way back up.