Carter, 66, is not well-known, however he does carry out for a global viewers practically on daily basis at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Travelers fortunate sufficient to listen to him usually discover themselves hypnotized by his music.
That’s what occurred to Carlos Whittaker, a motivational speaker who was touring dwelling to Tennessee on Wednesday morning after a talking engagement was canceled.
“I was super bummed that morning and had to reroute to Atlanta. As I was walking through the concourse, I heard someone playing the piano, and I just had to walk by them,” Whittaker, 46, informed Source. “There was Tonee, going down and going to town and I knew I just had to stay there.”
For an hour and a half Whittaker sat on the piano bar in Concourse A, listening to the music that appeared to effortlessly circulate from Carter’s fingertips. The writer, podcaster and Instagram influencer additionally took movies of the musician and shared them together with his “InstaFamilia,” which embody greater than 200,000 followers.
Eventually, the 2 males started speaking, even sharing intimate particulars about their lives.
When Carter returned to his piano, Whittaker got here up with an concept.
“Suddenly I was like, what would happen if I asked my Instagram followers if we could give him the biggest tip he’s ever gotten,” he mentioned. “Within 30 minutes, we had raised $10,000.”
“I just lost it. I thought he was kidding, I just couldn’t believe it. That just doesn’t happen,” Carter informed Source. “I didn’t know how to feel. This is the kind of the thing I do. I love giving and donating and helping people, but I never expected someone to do it for me.”
Before Whittaker boarded his aircraft, he informed his followers they might proceed to tip Carter on Venmo and CashApp.
“By the time I landed in Nashville, it was $20,000. And by the time I interviewed him for my podcast that night, it was $44,000. And as of this conversation, it’s at $61,000,” Whittaker mentioned on Friday night.
Despite well being issues, he is ‘the happiest man on the earth’
Carter was simply 6 years outdated when his father, additionally a pianist, took him to a Ray Charles live performance.
“I was done. I knew exactly then that’s what I wanted to do and I’ve been obsessed ever since,” mentioned the musician, whose stage identify is Valentine. “Once its in your heart, it’s in you and it ain’t going nowhere.”
Carter mentioned that it doesn’t matter what’s happening on the earth, music reminds him that “life is good.”
“When I’m playing, I feel like the happiest man in the world,” he added. “The happiest person in the world. I am happiest playing piano and watching people respond to that happiness with theirs.”
But Carter hasn’t had the best life. In reality, he is fortunate to be alive.
In 2008, whereas working as a pianist on a cruise ship, Carter discovered he has kidney illness. His physician informed him that his kidneys have been performing at simply 10%.
The analysis turned his life the other way up. For a long time earlier than then, he performed in bands and labored cruise ships. But now he should reserve his evenings for life-saving dialysis remedy.
“I have to do what I have to do to live. But I’m so happy, because when I’m not going through dialysis, I’m not going through heart problems, brain tumors or cancer. Maybe I don’t have working kidneys, but I get up and go to work everyday,” he mentioned.
“Yes, my life is a little inconvenient and yes, it isn’t what it used to be. No, I don’t have any strength and yes, I’m weak sometimes and a lot of my days aren’t good, but damn I’m here. I’m happy. Hell yeah, I’m the happiest person I know.”
He plans to pay it ahead
On Wednesday Carter placed on a swimsuit and headed to the airport, the place he is labored as a pianist for the final 13 years. He did not anticipate something extraordinary to occur. He was simply excited to play music for strangers, like at all times.
“I love working here. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. It’s a different energy, people going on vacations or business trips or going away with their loved ones, they’re happy,” he mentioned. “And when people are having a miserable day, they’ll walk past me and things will get a little brighter. They’ll start patting their feet and tapping their hands on the table and think ‘Alright, I can do this.'”
But then Whittaker, who Carter calls an “angel,” walked previous and every thing modified.
“It was a typical day and this guy walks up and introduces himself and says he wants to interview me for his podcast,” Carter mentioned. “He asked me what my story was and I said ‘I really don’t have a story, I’m quite boring. All I do is play piano.'”
But the 2 shortly turned associates, and inside hours 1000’s of individuals internationally knew Carter’s identify and have been even giving him suggestions.
“It has had me crying for days, not because of the total, but because of the individual donations,” Carter mentioned. “I looked through all the donations and saw so many that were $0.50, $1, $2. My heart palpated because I knew they were giving me what they had. People were giving out of love.”
Source has independently verified the quantity raised and despatched to Carter.
Whittaker has used his Instagram platform to lift funds for others prior to now.
“My online community has turned into this thing where we all collectively decide to change someone’s life whenever we get a chance,” Whittaker mentioned. “I know people with 1 million followers who can’t raise a few thousand dollars, but we’re just 200,000 and they just give and they’re so excited about it. It’s a blessing.”
The very first thing Carter plans to do with the cash is get an oil change for his automobile, he joked. But after that he says he’ll use it to assist folks the best way Whittaker has helped him.
“That $60,000 is not mine. It’s money that’s going to go to others,” Carter mentioned. “There is only one way to say thank you, because words are inadequate. And that is to pay this forward.”