When a homeless man in a wheelchair approached busker Jonny Walker in Leeds on New Year’s Eve, the thought of a viral video hit never crossed his mind.
But soon after Beeston busker Jonny, 35, posted a stunning video of him playing the guitar outside Trinity Leeds while a homeless man sung Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Summertime’ people all over the world took note.
The amateur footage, captured on a phone by a group of women who stopped to help while on a night out, has been viewed by more than 380,000 people and shared over 3,500 times in just a week.
During an evening busking session Jonny was approached by a homeless man named Bernard, a Belfast native also known as Brian, who belted out a stunning rendition of the song that has been viewed as far afield as Dubai.
Jonny said: “It just blew me away. It summed up for me everything I love about busking – the unpredictability of the streets. That is why I do what I do.”
Bernard is thought to have been homeless for a number of years and is a well-known character around the city centre.
Jonny, who has been a professional musician for 15 years but also busks in around 50 towns and cities a year, explained that he has known of Bernard for over a decade and has seen his situation decline.
“I’ve seen him slumped in shop doorways drunk and in quite a bad way and recently I’d seen him in a wheelchair and thought he’d really gone downhill,” he said.
“But I never realised he was a singer. On New Year’s Eve I was busking outside Trinity and he approached me and asked to sing with me.
“I started playing and his voice was absolutely incredible – I couldn’t believe how good it was.”
Jonny is also the director of the Keep Streets Live! campaign, fighting for the rights of buskers and homeless people all over the country.
“A lot of people see that these people have habits and are wounded people, and it’s easy to dismiss them but each person has got a story,” he said. “This just shows that we are all human beings.”
For further information visit facebook.com/JonnySongs.