Theres an old saying that food feeds the body but music feeds the soul. A rare gift is feeding plenty of souls in San Franciscos Tenderloin District, one of the poorest areas of the city, bringing music to a place where youd least expect it. There is little harmony in the streets of the Tenderloin. For many, its a last refuge of the down and out, and the last place youd expect to find one of the worlds finest pianos. "It was finished in 1884 at the Steinway factory in New York," says Musician Lee Walkup. Walkup figured a 124-year-old Steinway, which spent most of its life in a castle, would serve a more noble calling in the Tenderloin. "It belongs here. This instrument belongs in this place," he says. Walkups sister Patricia spent years helping the poor of the Tenderloin. When she died last year, he wanted to find a way to honor her, so he bought the piano in his home state of Connecticut, and had it delivered to the lobby of the Cadillac Residential Hotel. "Music is for people, and just because they cant afford a hundred dollars for a ticket to go to the opera house doesnt mean they cant enjoy great uplifting music too," Walkup says. Walkup figures the pianos perfect pitch and flawless tone will be perfectly in tune with the Cadillac. Afterall, the hotel has taken in strangers for more than 30 years. "I feel that music is the soul of people, whether its jazz, whether its concert music," says Leroy Looper, founder of the Cadillac Hotel. Looper envisions concerts in the lobby with music to heal lost souls. "I figure that we get the very best piano here, then the best people can come and play it for the best people in the Tenderloin," Looper says. The piano is valued at about $125,000, far out of reach of most in the hotel, but Looper hopes it will be bring joy to a neighborhood where joy is sometimes hard to find. The new piano will be featured at a party in September when the Cadillac Hotel turns 100 years old.
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