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John William “Blind” Boone at Blind Boone Park, Warrensburg, Missouri – by Ai Qui Hopen (2002)

Blind Boone Park in Warrensburg, Missouri is named after and celebrates Warrensburg musician John William “Blind” Boone, the son of a former slave. Neglected for a long period, the park was restored in recent years due to the volunteer efforts of numerous individuals. One of the centerpieces of the park is the sculpture of Blind Boone by Ai Qui Hopen.  

Who is Blind Boone?

…An article in the Chicago Inter-Ocean, dated May 28, 1888 states; “Blind Boone, the colored vocalist and pianoforte player, assisted by Miss Stella May, gave a concert last night at the Centenary M. E. Church. The greater part of the program was instrumental, and the touch and expression of the blind man is exquisite. Considering the disadvantages he labors under, he is perfectly marvelous. His principal pieces were a Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, and the Marshfield Tornado. Miss Stella May, a young lady scarcely 16 years of age, sings admirably, and has a perfect contralto voice.”

Another article in Kunkel’s Musical Review, St. Louis, Mo., dated May 1893 reads; “The Blind Boone Concert Company filled a splendid engagement for four weeks in this city. The principal member of the company, John W. Boone, is one of the most wonderful pianists of recent years. His playing is remarkable, not because of his blindness, but because of his artistic excellence. John W. Boone is justly considered the successor of the celebrated Gottschalk. He grasps with marvelous rapidity any composition played for him, and the most difficult pieces are played after single reading. His engagements here drew crowded houses nightly. He has met the leading professional men of the city, and the opinion is unanimous that he is the most wonderful artist before the public. We advise our patrons, wherever he appears; to take advantage of the opportunity of hearing him…”