Meet Donald Gould, otherwise known on the streets of Sarasota, Florida as ‘The Piano Man’. For nearly seven years Gould was homeless, doing what he could to survive on the streets of Sarasota, oftentimes playing piano outside of Clasico Cafe Bar to make what little money he could off of tips. His life changed drastically for the better once the following video was recorded and posted on the internet.
After the above video went viral within hours of being published on YouTube by Sly Dylan, the passers-by that recorded the initial video tracked down the homeless piano prodigy that they had encountered the day before and interviewed him. The following video is of that interview and provides a brief synopsis of Gould’s past endeavors before alcohol and drug abuse landed him on the streets of Sarasota.
After both videos went viral within a very short period of time, the Piano Man and his magnificent musical capabilities caught the public eye. In the coming weeks, American entertainment news television program Entertainment Tonight reached out to the homeless piano prodigy and boosted him towards new beginnings. The following video documents the transition of Gould’s life off of the streets to becoming a nationally recognized icon of second chances.
Entertainment Tonight was even able to land Gould his national television debut; performing “The Star Spangled Banner,” before one of the National Football League’s Monday night season openers. The attention Gould received sparked by a single video recording ultimately landed him a recording contract from a record label in Austin, Texas and a new life to look forward to. Throughout the transition, Gould worked on his sobriety with the help of a Sarasota ministry group, moved into a halfway house, rekindled his relationship with his long-lost son, and started giving back to the community which provided him with a new start.
This isn’t just a story of new beginnings for a former member of the homeless community, but it is a story of hope. Despite a good portion of those living on the streets suffering from addiction, substance abuse, and mental illness, these same individuals are just as bit as human as we are, and they should be treated as such. Each and every one of them has a purpose, and they could only be a single self-esteem boost away from recognizing that purpose; only one self-esteem boost from reaching out for help to get their lives back on track.