Donald Gould’s life was changed in 2015 by a popular YouTube video. Gould was homeless in Sarasota, Florida, at the time, and went by the nickname Boone. The military veteran, a former member of the United States Marine Corps, was plainly gifted. He learned to play the clarinet during his duty, and after leaving the military, he enrolled in Spring Arbor University in Michigan to study music theory.
“”I had to learn how to play every instrument from the piccolo to the tuba,” Gould told WWSB. “I did music theory and ear training, and I had to learn how to play every instrument from the piccolo to the tuba.” “I have the ability to write parts like a manual.””
However, Gould ran out of money and was unable to continue his studies. He had a rough patch, battling addiction and alcoholism. Then his wife passed away.
He told ABC News, “They sat me down and informed me what had happened, that my wife had passed away, and I just lost it guy.”
Gould’s 3-year-old son was taken away from him by social services because of his substance abuse.
In an interview with WWSB, he added, “Every day it’s hard.” “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him since they kidnapped him.”
After hitting rock bottom, Gould made his way to Florida. Despite being homeless and separated from his family, he continued to be musical.
Indeed, the “Sarasota Keys” project, which placed pianos across the city for passersby to play, helped him establish a name in the community.
Gould began by playing the public piano in order to supplement his income. When someone recorded the homeless man playing Styx’s “Come Sail Away” in 2015, that instrument changed his life.
According to ABC News, Gould’s video has received over 2 million views in just two days.
In 2015, Aurore Henry, the woman who recorded the video, told ABC News, “We went outside to chat and we saw him playing and it was so incredible that I grabbed my phone out to start recording it.” “Obviously, I had no idea it would turn into this.” I posted it on Facebook, and it was quickly shared by a few individuals.”
Henry ran into Gould again not long after the video went viral and was picked up by a local ABC affiliate. She took advantage of the situation to inform him how suessful the video was.
She told ABC News, “We chatted a little bit about where he got his music background, what his life has been like.” “It was fantastic. When we told him about the video, he looked concerned, as if someone had previously told him they had seen it on the internet. He’s a quiet man. ‘Oh, you know, that’s very beautiful,’ he said. ‘I’m not sure what to think about that.’
“It’s a tragic situation,” Henry remarked. “It’s evident that (Gould) has some substance addiction issues and other issues, yet (music) still flows out of him.”
Strangers reached out to Gould after seeing his video, and it didn’t take long for them to offer assistance. According to ABC News, a local restaurant wanted to give Gould an audition to play at their piano bar in 2015.
Gould became a national sensation after other media outlets got involved. The man was given a makeover by Inside Edition, which included a haircut, shave, new clothes, and the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience.
Gould also checked himself into a recovery facility. Soon after, he was given the opportunity to perform the “National Anthem” at the San Francisco 49ers’ season opening.
That isn’t all, though. Gould was also given accommodation, a scholarship to finish his college degree, and a lump amount of $35,000 from donations, according to the Washington Post.
The ability to reunite with his son was probably the sweetest present of all.
Gould has already established himself as a musician, with a website and his first album, “Walk on Water.”
Gould has also been an outspoken champion for the homeless. Gould launched a case against Sarasota ordinances that make sleeping in public illegal, collaborating with the ACLU and other plaintiffs.
In an ACLU news release, Gould remarked, “But for the Grace of God, I am here today.” “Three months ago, I was playing a piano on the streets of Sarasota, and now I’m playing the National Anthem for the San Francisco 49ers.” Not everyone is afforded the same possibilities as me. It’s critical to me that I do everything I can to put things right.”
In October 2021, when Gould was back in Sarasota, local news station ABC7 caught up with him. Gould had lived in Germany for four years and was looking for a place to live in the Florida area, according to the publication. Gould informed the source that he hopes to audition for “America’s Got Talent” while working on a new record.
“It feels nice to entertain and make people smile,” Gould told ABC7. “It feels good to help people forget about their lives, their issues for a few moments anyway.”
After his life had been turned upside down, Gould redeemed himself in Sarasota by returning to the piano, where it all began, and inviting the audience to a concert. The disparity between his physical well-being and his external appearance is quite astonishing. Gould now resides in Germany with his new wife. He’s also managed to incorporate music into his career, as he had always envisioned.