LIMA — Six years ago, Richard Commons went to bed unable to play piano. The next morning he was plucking the keys of a keyboard he had initially obtained for his son, Genesys.
“One day, I came out my room, and he’s playing the piano,” Genesys, who was 12 at the time, said. “He started with one song, then he’d play it a little longer, change a few notes and become more fluid.”
Six years later, Richard is playing music on a stage in Lima’s Town Square.
Scheduled to play every Wednesday outside of ArtSpace/Lima from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Richard Commons plays a mix of soothing instrumental piano music he says has been a result of divine providence.
“I can’t play anything except the music in my dreams,” Commons, 55, said.
Commons’s relationship with the his keyboard named Henry began on Aug. 6, 2013. At the time, he was asking for guidance for a higher purpose, a sign like a burning bush, he said.
“I said, ‘God, what do you got for me? Show me something, man,’” Commons said.
He found that sign in cloud formation sitting in a sky filled with blue — a lone question mark. He took a picture of it, which he still keeps in his phone.
A week later, he got up to play the piano after waking from a dream filled with music.
“I heard a voice,” Commons said. “It said: ‘Go ahead and play that piano.’”
So he did.
Commons, who has no formal music education, calls his ability a gift from God. Outside of the congoes, Commons says he doesn’t play any other similar instruments nor is able to read music. Instead, he relies on a number of songs that form his catalog of “Soothyn Jazz” music.
He described the kind of music in one of his YouTube videos that he has since posted to highlight his playing.
“This music is to relax you, so you can chill out, kick back, have a Corona, put your feet up, be glad that you are alive,” Commons said.
Now he works to share his “God-given” talent wherever he can. Outside of playing on Wednesdays this summer, Richard also has played to entertain Vivaci’s dinner crowd and at Shawnee Country Club during a school fundraiser.
Commons has also recently had an invitation to share his playing to a national audience after being invited to audition for “America’s Got Talent,” which he visited this past November. During the trip to Detroit, Commons didn’t gain a spot on television, but he enjoyed the “circus-like” experience nonetheless.
A highlight of the trip he said was awing the judges. After playing, he said the judges and crowd were quiet, and the silence hung on the air.
“Nobody said nothing, but they didn’t tell me to get out,” Commons said.
Commons is scheduled to play his live music this summer up until Aug. 28.
“He uses me as a human conduit,” Commons said. “I didn’t sit and practice to learn notes. God loaned me the music so I can share it. I just play it.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.