JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Pianos, six in all, are found scattered around downtown. It's an initiative started by a few locals to help promote the arts.
The sound of music outside Chamblin's Uptown Books is pretty common. That piano has been a part of the storefront for about two years. It was decorated by a local artist, donated by a local art lover and appreciated by a local homeless musician.
"I get complements from people saying even though they know its not tuned, but I give it a good sound," said James Blackman.
Blackman says he taught himself how to play when he was six using nothing but his mom's old record player.
"My mama had a bunch of Ray Charles and all kind of Motown sounding stuff and I would get on the piano and found the sound that matched the record. And I literally learned all the records."
Now, he'll regularly play around town at any one of the pianos donated as part of the City Keys Piano Project.
The idea came from New York City where pianos were placed around town to promote the arts. So two local families teamed up to bring the movement home.
"I think it' a good plus," said Ron Chamblin, Owner of Chamblin's Uptown Books and sponsor of the piano outside his store. "It's one of the real, genuine pluses. It's something that's not fabricated so much."
As for Blackman, it means as much to him as it does to the people who pass by.
"I come here and release stress. This is my friend, the piano," he said with a smile.
Those responsible say its been remarkable to watch folks young and old make music a part of downtown.
Everyone is encouraged to play the piano and upload a video to the City Keys