Donald Gould, a homeless man, was seen playing a moving cover of Styx’s “Come Sail Away” on a public piano that was placed in Sarasota, Florida, as part of the city’s Sarasota Keys Piano Project. The moving performance was caught on camera and uploaded to Facebook where it went viral with more than 2.3 million views and over 93,000 shares.
Gould’s new found viral fame has certainly come as a shock to the 51-year-old.
The 51-year-old, who’s affectionately known as “Boone” to the community, turns out to be a regular on the keys and runs through five songs a day for the public from Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” to Bach’s “Toccata.”
Gould’s piano-playing has delighted people in Sarasota and now the Internet. But there’s a heartbreaking story behind the musician. When he was younger, Gould played clarinet for the Marine Corps, WWSB reported. After his service, he attended college in Michigan to study music education but ran out of money before he could finish. He worked other jobs and started a family, however his life changed when his wife died in 1998. Gould turned to substance abuse eventually losing his son to social services. He later ended up in Sarasota and began playing music with Paul Lonardo, another musician.
Now, things may be looking up for Gould. Someone who saw the video reached out to local restaurant Surf Shack, which offered to allow the 51-year-old try out for a position as a possible act for their bar, according to WWSB.
Others have also wowed us with their impromptu musical performances. A homeless man named Ryan stunned people last year with a beautiful performance on an outdoor public piano in Edmonton, Canada. Similarly, David Allen Welsh, a homeless man from Vancouver, Washington, shocked people back in 2013 with some gorgeous piano playing on a thrift store piano, even moving one listener to tears.
“He started to play, and I choked on my coffee and it started coming out of my nose,” listener James Maynard told ABC News. “I had tears coming to my eyes when I saw his fingers go down one end of the piano to the other.”