66-year-old pianist Tony “Valentin” Carter broke down in tears when he learned that a generous stranger had collected $61,000 (321,000 Brazilian Real) in tipping during his regular performance at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, United States.
Carter plays at a piano bar called Concourse A every week, Monday through Thursday, and his repertoire includes a wide variety of songs, from ballads to original songs.
On July 21, Carlos Whitaker, motivational speaker and author of “Enter Wild,” was returning home to Nashville, Tennessee, when he came across Carter playing the piano.
“The event I was speaking at in Memphis was cancelled, so I had to change the itinerary for my flight home, which is why I ended up staying in Atlanta for about an hour and a half,” Whitaker said.
The spokesperson said he noticed Carter “trying his best” in his performance, though not many people were paying attention to him. So Whitaker decided to pay attention to the pianist.
“I’m a musician too,” he said. “I had a group that opened for a lot of band performances and no one paid any attention to me. So when I saw that no one was really listening to him, my heart said, ‘Oh, I got it.’ I just wanted to tell him I was listening and someone noticed.”
Whitaker stated that Song De Carter moved him and decided to approach the pianist to talk to him and get to know him better. The duo chatted between songs, sharing their personal stories, and then Whitaker had an idea. Getting Carter the biggest tip he’d ever get.
collection on Instagram
Then Whitaker recruited more than 200,000 followers on his Instagram profile to help him raise money. He said he initially hoped to raise about $2,500 (13,000 R$). But his followers were able to raise $10,000 (52,000 Brazilian Real) in less than 30 minutes.
Whitaker documented the moment Carter told about the tip in a video he posted on Instagram. In the video, the pianist looked in disbelief when Whitaker told him about the money, and he started crying.
As he climbed home, the speaker asked his followers to continue making donations if they could. “By the time I got to Nashville, it was about $25,000 (131,000 R$), and when I spoke to him that night, the proceeds were already at $44,000 (232,000 R$),” he said.
In total, Whitaker raised $61,000 (321,000 Brazilian reals) in donations to Carter. “I was amazed” when he learned that the fundraising had continued, said the pianist. “I started crying again,” he said.
Carter said he wouldn’t keep all the money for himself. “This money is not mine. I will pass it on to help other people in need.”
The pianist plans to make quarterly donations to the American Kidney Foundation and help other musicians, like him, struggling to survive.
“I would love to see your talent used for greater motivations,” Whitaker said. “He is literally the most wonderful human being I have ever met.”
The pianist replied, “We are not friends.” “We are family now.”
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