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Published on Jan 4, 2016
I went out busking in Leeds on New Year's Eve and, after a while, was joined by a homeless man in a wheelchair who asked if he could sing with me. As a busker, I spend a lot of time on the streets and had seen this man many times over the years, but didn't know he was singer, and, as the years had gone by, his health and wellbeing seemed to have worsened a great deal. We jammed out a version of 'Summertime' and I was blown away by his voice so I stopped a passerby and asked them to capture the moment on my camera phone and then uploaded the video to my Facebook page where it quickly went viral as thousands of people shared it (https://www.facebook.com/JonnySongs/v...).
My spontaneous street jam with Bernard Davey was a soul-affirming, enriching experience which summed up everything I love about street culture. The streets are full of wonderful surprises and stories. I hope Bernard's amazing improvised version of 'Summertime' helps people to remember not to judge people they see on the streets according to their appearances, but to always look below the surface appearance and find the person underneath.
Moments like these are why I founded the Keep Streets Live Campaign, a not for profit organisation which advocates for public spaces which are open to informal offerings of art and music and campaigns against the criminalisation of homelessness and street culture (see http://keepstreetslive.com).
In addition, there are many wonderful charities that work with homeless and vulnerably housed including Inn Churches which provides emergency accommodation for the homeless in churches during the cold winter months and intercepts food waste to give to the hungry. I am doing a sponsored sober year in 2016 to raise funds for them and you can find out more and make a donation here: https://give.everydayhero.com/uk/jonn...
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