John William "Blind" Boone
John William “Blind” Boone, the son of a former slave, overcame blindness, poverty and discrimination to become an amazing composer and concert pianist. His philosophy “Merit, Not Sympathy, Wins” is as valuable a lesson today as it was in his time.
Boone is credited, along with Louis Moreau Gottschalk, with giving legitimacy to black music. Scott Joplin, “Blind” Boone and James Scott are considered Missouri’s “Big Three”. Missouri is considered the hub of ragtime, the precursor to jazz and the first completely American music. He was known to play some ragtime, Boone’s first love though was classical music, particularly that of German composer Franz Liszt.
Boone was a committed philanthropist who supported local causes and opened his home to the community. He donated generously to several churches, and gave his time and talents to local youth. He died in 1927, his wife Eugenia in 1931. There Columbia Cemetery gravesites were unmarked until 1971.
It’s time to restore the lost legacy of “Blind” Boone. The exterior renovations of his home are largely complete, and have remained true to the original era of the structure. But the interior and grounds await their own refurbishing.