It was a real-life miracle the day that one homeless veteran got a second chance to turn his life around. From drug addiction to living on the streets, he just couldn’t find a way to get back onto his feet. Until one day when he revealed his talents to the world without judgment. It all started in Sarasota, FL when several pianos were wheeled out around downtown in hopes of more appreciation for the arts and live music.
It was 2015 when one veteran was the first to notice the new addition to his neighborhood… introducing 54-year-old Donald Gould. Shaggy-haired and minimally dressed, the veteran sat down before the sidewalk piano and began to play Styx’s “Come Sail Away.” Quickly catching the ears and eyes of citizens walking by, a crowd formed to watch his incredible performance. With just one single cell phone video posted on the Internet, Gould’s career took off.
Gould’s passion for music is no new found love. The talented vet majored in music in college. Following, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps where he played the clarinet in the band. It doesn’t stop there! In a street interview, Gould gushed that not only could he play the drums too, but “from the piccolo all the way down to the tuba.” His array of skills followed him decades later when he was able to still magnificently play the piano without any sheet music before him.
His Rise To Fame
Immediately, the community came together in support for this talented vet. A local barber cleaned Gould up by cutting his hair free of charge and a GoFundMe page was started for him that raised $40,000. With the video reaching three million views, it didn’t take long for Gould to get discovered. Since then, his entire life has changed.
— Laura Dimon (@LauraDimon) July 6, 2015
Less than two months after Gould was playing on the streets, he got invited to perform the national anthem at a San Francisco 49ers game in front of 70,000 NFL fans. The blessings continue to roll out as the pianist also reunited with his son, who was taken away from him at 3 years old. As Americans all over swooned over the vet’s incredible talents, one international woman found herself doing the same. Sabine Pérez lived in Germany when reached out to Gould after seeing his viral video.
“I have a handicapped son which sometimes can be really aggressive and so I played Donald’s music to him and he instantly calmed down. That was pretty amazing to see. So I wrote Donald a message just to tell him what his music did to my boy and tell him thank you also. I never expected him to answer me back – but about seven months later he did!”
That was just the beginning of their love story. After meeting, the couple started their life together in Germany where they often perform together.
We had an exciting TV shooting today. Soon you will hear our first duet together.We will keep you updated.Wish you all a peaceful evening.
Back To His Roots
In 2017, Gould reunited with the piano that changed his life forever. Returning to Sarasota, he sat before the painted sidewalk piano yet again and played “Come Sail Away.” His story is an inspiration for aspiring artists and citizens everywhere. The beauty in his love for music helped him find a way out of a hard time.
Watch Donald Gould passionately play the sidewalk piano that would change his life forever.