Pianist gets BRL 300,000 in tips after the influencer recorded him playing at the airport

Last week, American digital influencer Carlos Whittaker made some posts on his Instagram that went viral. His publications led to a huge number of tips to the man, which totaled US$61,000 (equivalent to R$300,000).

Whittaker is a speaker and author with 203,000 followers on Instagram. USA Today reported that he was due to fly to an event on Wednesday, but the program was canceled due to an outbreak of COVID-19. During a stopover in Atlanta, while on his way back to his hometown of Nashville, Whittaker sat in terminal A at the airport and ran into pianist Tonee Valentine, he said in an Instagram video.

In the same video, Whittaker recorded Valentine’s skills and commented that the pianist was “playing with his heart while hardly anyone notices him”. At one point in the video, Whittaker showed the blue gourd where the artist received his tip, which contained only a small amount of money. Whittaker then struck up a conversation with the man and asked him if he would appear on his podcast, “Human Hope.”

“He asked me: do I have hope in humanity?” Valentine told The Washington Post about his encounter with Whittaker. “And I told him no. I didn’t see it. But, of course, that has changed.”

In the interview with Whittaker, which has been viewed more than 700,000 times to date, the pair discussed how the pianist was diagnosed with kidney disease and undergoes dialysis “every night for nine hours” before working at the airport.

Whittaker then decided to ask his Instagram followers to tip the pianist. “I want to tip him big when he leaves in 40 minutes,” Whittaker told his followers during the video. “Anything I get over the next 40 minutes, I’ll put it on his account.”

It wasn’t long before donations arrived for Valentine, who continued to play the piano as the money piled up. When Whittaker had to take his flight, his followers had already donated $10,000.

“They just deposited $10,000,” Whittaker told Valentine in the video.

“Who are they?” Valentine asked.

Whittaker told Valentine: “There are 170,000 strangers who loved his piano. I asked them to give you money because you’re a great human being and you’re changing people’s lives by playing, and you’re so sincere and people love you.”

But it did not stop there. Donations continued and Whittaker wrote in the video caption that as of Friday (23), donations totaled $61,000.

Valentine looked visibly shocked by the news, according to photos Whittaker shared on Instagram. The pianist told The Washington Post that he was inspired by Whittaker’s kindness and planned to help someone else with all that money.

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