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Carjacking victim uses music to heal

The non-profit founder said musical play dates are "healing for me."

ST. LOUIS — Eight months after a violent carjacking that could have killed him, Tom Townsend has once again turned to music to heal the pain. His non-profit Pianos for People came about in tribute to his pianist son who died in a car accident. 

"We've given away over 260 pianos so far, and we have 200 students between Ferguson and Cherokee and it's the most heartwarming thing you've ever seen in your life," said Townsend.

Townsend's unsuccessful carjacker shot him in the jaw in September 2018, necessitating multiple surgeries to rebuild his face. Doctors cautioned him about slowing down and getting more rest.

"They kept saying, you need to make sure that you are chilling as much as possible," said Townsend. "Just don't do stuff."

RELATED: Non-profit founder grateful to be alive after carjacking

The doctors trying to help Townsend recover could not have predicted what happened next. Tom invited musician friends to his home for play dates. The short black-and-white videos showing his jam sessions are called The Healing Sessions.

"I'm gonna hang out at the piano and I am going to have musician friends of mine come over one by one and we'll do a song together and we'll talk a little bit about music as a healing force," said Townsend. 

Performers like Anita Jackson, Matthew Boyd Williams, Walter Parks, and Jim Boggia play music at Townsend's house and discuss the healing power of music. 

"The musicians walk right in, sit down, we chat, we don't rehearse," said Townsend. "We pick a song, we play it and it's organic, authentic, real, and it's healing for me."

To see the music videos shot by Matthew Boyd Williams, click here.

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