Donald Gould has always loved music.
The 55-year-old man has always made sure to include music in his life. When he was with the Marines, he played clarinet with the United States Marine Corps Band. Then, he went to college at Spring Arbor University in Michigan, where he studied music theory.
Unfortunately, Donald began struggling after he tragically lost his wife to cancer and lost custody of his son.
Donald started struggling with addiction, and he became homeless. He moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he lived on the streets for years.
Still, even during the hardest part of his life, Donald still never forgot his love for music.
One of Donald’s favorite things to do was to play on an outdoor piano. He’d go almost every day and play his favorite songs, including “Come Sail Away” by Styx. On a warm day in June 2015, Donald went to his favorite piano and played “Come Sail Away” like normal. But on this day, something very unusual happened.
A passer-by recorded a video of Donald and put it on their YouTube page. To both the YouTuber and Donald’s shock, the video went immensely viral, receiving over 40 million views.
After the video went viral, things rapidly changed in Donald’s life.
Jacqueline Bevin, a member of a Sarasota ministry group, saw the video and realized that she could help Donald. She told him about a group for people struggling with substance abuse, and she also helped him move into a halfway house. Once he was sober, Donald reconnected with his son, and they now talk once a week.
“We are so proud of him. This wasn’t easy, but he has turned his life around,” Jacqueline told News Channel 8. “We just want to see a bright future for him.”
After that, Donald began receiving tons of opportunities for his music career.
Donald was invited to play the National Anthem at a San Francisco 49ers game, and he was also on a Japanese game show! Then, he got the offer he’d been waiting for: a recording contract from Triple Pop Records in Austin.
The first single on the album was naturally “Come Sail Away.”
In September 2017, Donald went back to Sarasota and played a concert at the piano where it all began. It’s amazing to see happy and healthy he looks!
Donald is now married and living in Germany, where he regularly plays concerts. Donald is amazed by the way things have changed in his life.
“I tell people the odds of me winning $100 million playing the Lotto are better than something like happening,” he said. “You should always dream big.”
Donald is a talented musician whose whole life changed thanks to one viral video. If you’d like to see the video that started it all, check it out below.
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