Meet the Busker Who Received a $50,000 Gift from a Group of Strangers


The busker, who performs as the “One Man Band with No Name,” has been playing in San Francisco for 20 years.

In September 2014, he received a surprise of a lifetime when a group of strangers collectively gifted him $50,000.

The anonymous donation was made by five people, including local businessman Richard Brandi, who shared their story in the video below:

A busker in San Francisco has received a Christmas surprise of a lifetime after a group of strangers donated $50,000 to him.

The gift was given by two groups of people who were touched by the musician’s dedication to his craft.

Robert Townsend has been playing his guitar on Market Street, the busiest street in San Francisco, for more than 20 years. He plays there seven days a week, even when it’s raining or snowing.

He typically starts at 9 a.m., and keeps playing until 7:30 p.m., according to the Downtown Streets Team, which works with homeless people across the Bay Area to help them regain employment and housing.

Many people have noticed him over the years as he sits on a milk crate with his guitar and a sign that reads “Please Help” — but one day, he caught the attention of two groups of people who decided to do something about it.

One group was made up of employees from Google, who had been noticing Robert for almost three years and decided to donate the money so that he could afford an apartment and stop being homeless.

The man who has played his guitar on the subways of New York City for more than 40 years is getting a fresh start.

Busker Tony Spinosa, who was featured in a short documentary film by The Atlantic’s CityLab just last week, broke his finger on the subway tracks in late January. He and his girlfriend were trying to rescue his instrument from between the cars when it happened. In an unfortunate twist of fate, he says another performer had just left him a note saying that he was “the greatest busker in New York City.”

The injury forced him off the subway for weeks, and during that time he got word that he was about to be evicted from his rent-controlled apartment—not for the first time. “It’s been a tough go with my finger and rent,” Spinosa said at the time. But then something unexpected happened: A group of strangers stepped in to help.

After CityLab wrote about Spinosa’s story, readers stepped up to offer assistance to Spinosa through GoFundMe donations and an online petition calling on his landlord to let him stay in his home. Together they raised more than $50,000, enough not only to pay several months’ worth of

I am a street musician. I perform in New York City because I love it, but also to make money. The money I earn from my performances goes towards supporting myself and my family. It’s not easy to make a living as a street musician in New York City, but I choose to do it because I love it and the people who listen and watch me perform.

On May 1st, 2015, I was performing outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was approached by a man named Josh Davis. He told me he had recorded my performance for over an hour and asked if he could use the video on his website. His website, www.joshdavisnyc.com, has videos of many musicians, performers, and artists in New York City and all over the world.

I said that he could use the video on his website if he wanted to. Josh Davis then told me that there were ten other people with him who were interested in giving me a gift for my music by making a donation to me as a gesture of gratitude for inspiring them with my music that day.

Josh Davis asked me if I would accept their gift for my music on the condition that he could film our conversation about their gift. I agreed to speak with them under

Buskers are a dime a dozen. But buskers who can make you cry, then make you smile, then sing along with them? They’re special.

That’s the kind of busker that Canadian singer-songwriter Derek Christoff — better known by his stage name D-Sisive — has become over the past few years. He’s inspired countless YouTube commenters to want to join him in a singalong, and he even made it onto the cover of the Toronto Sun at one point.

A collection of his covers went viral on Reddit Monday, inspiring an outpouring of appreciation from news outlets like The Huffington Post and Rolling Stone.

If you’ve ever been to New York City’s subway system, you’re familiar with its buskers. Many of them are musicians, but there’s a wide variety of other performers as well, including dancers, mimes, and jugglers.

One of the most well-known buskers is a saxophonist who goes by Mike Yung. For years he’s played at one particular spot on the subway platform in Union Square, and his skill has made him difficult to ignore.

Yung has gained some popularity in recent months thanks to a video of him performing posted on Facebook by YouTuber Michael Calfan. The video quickly went viral, garnering over 10 million views in just two weeks. As word spread about his talent, people began wondering what he did outside of playing on the subway. This curiosity reached such heights that Yung was eventually featured on CBS’s “The Early Show.”

For many years, New York subway performer Michael Hill has been using his talent to earn a living. He’s been playing the saxophone since he was 10 years old, and has turned it into his main source of income.

“I had my first job when I was 12, but I didn’t start playing music for money until I was about 13 or 14,” Hill tells CNBC Make It.

Hill cut his teeth in the streets of New York City, starting with open mic nights before working his way up to the subway. His talent on the saxophone has garnered him quite a fan base over the years, and he’s played for some notable stars including Lady Gaga and Sting.

Hill is now 40 years old and still plays music to earn a living in the New York City subway system. The average street musician makes $33,000 annually in tips alone, according to data from ZipRecruiter. While Hill has more than 25 years of experience under his belt, he says he makes “a couple hundred dollars” each day by performing three shows that last about three hours apiece.


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