Have You Heard the Music? Vietnam Vet Picks Up Sax, Hopes to Inspire Others

MONROE, LA -- If you ever find yourself sitting at the stoplight on the intersection of 18th Street and Texas Avenue in Monroe, you might have been wondering where mysterious jazz music is coming from.

This busy street is last place you'd think to hear it, but it's there.

With his palm trees and classic cars, Donald Givens sits outside, practicing his saxophone.

What's surprising -- the 64-year old Vietnam veteran just picked it up two years ago.

"I was at a church service and the guy was playing the saxophone at church of course some gospel music and I was very much touched by that and inspired," he said. "I've always loved that instrument and never thought of taking it up." 

"I didn't know anything about the sax, bought one from the pawn shop," he said.

He wants to remind others that you're never too old to start something new.

"Trying to be an inspiration to the young folks to say, surely if this guy can do this, I can do at least one instrument," Givens said.

He's also picking up the guitar.

For the past few months, he says he's been playing the saxophone for fellow veterans at the Northeast Louisiana Veterans Home.

"In Vietnam we had what we called floor shows, entertainers would come from the us and entertain the troops, so I thought I'd be able to give back," he said.

He and his wife of 40 years have had their fair share of strangers -- just as curious as we were -- approaching the house to see where the music is coming from,

"I've had several people to come by here, I played at a couple's wedding a year ago," Givens said. "They said they had been coming over here, hearing me play. And they would roll down their windows, turn off the radio and if I wasn't out here they were disappointed."

He said an elderly lady dropped by to tell him she was inspired by his eagerness.

"She said, 'I was going to school to get my real estate license, I became discouraged, and I was gonna drop out of school and then I thought about you,'" said Givens.

The woman ended up getting her real estate license.

Givens said, "And then she said 'Do you mind if I come to your backyard and listen to you play?"

He hopes to give back with his talents -- inspiring others to try something new, no matter your age.

"Practice, practice, practice," he said. "And determination. That's what we need."

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