18-wheeler driver discovers hidden talent thanks to jazz

Roy Randall turns up the music in his downtime and plays along with his trusty companion: A 1980s trumpet.

SAN ANTONIO - We all have a gift, a talent that comes naturally.

Some of us find what we love to do early in life, but others discover their calling years later.

That was the case for 54-year-old Roy Randall, a truck driver with a love for jazz.

On a normal day, Randall, from Alabama, is moving cargo.

He packs up his 18-wheeler and drives from the Carolinas, to Tennessee and back to San Antonio.

“I start at about 6 a.m., and I go all day until my 11 hours is up. Once I’m done, wherever I’m at, I’ll look at my phone and find a Walmart. I go find a corner, and I let it rip," said Randall.

State by state, in Randall's down time, he turns up jazz music on the radio and plays along with his trusty companion: A 1980's Benge trumpet.

“As long as I don’t get kicked out, I’ll play all day," he said.

Randall's love for jazz began in his 30s.

“I heard them play an Anita Baker song, and I fell in love with the sound," said Randall. "The very next day, I went to the pawn shop with $40. I bought me a trumpet.”

He tried to master the art using music books. But instead, he chose to play from the heart.

“I started driving down the highway...and I’d find me some jazz and that’s how I learned, by playing to jazz stations," said Randall. "That was in 1988.”

He plays six, sometimes seven hours, mostly at a Walmart or Lowe's off Austin Highway, and another Walmart off O'Connor Road.

“Some people are like, ‘Somebody’s playing a horn!’ And they’ll drive around and park it right in front of me," said Randall.

He plays to whomever will listen.

“Every Sunday, I wash my clothes at this Washeteria and he’s playing his beautiful music and I’m thinking it’s Fort Sam doing TAPPS or something. Then I look over, and it’s him!” said admirer, Tom Collins.

The music goes far beyond the parking lot. For Collins, it's reaching into his soul.

“It made me cry because I lost my mom last year, and, just hearing this music, it’s inspirational just hearing that sound," said Collins.

Randall doesn't play for tips. He doesn't play to get famous. He plays to inspire.

“Every one of us has a purpose. All of us do, and it’s up to us to find out what it is we’re good at," said Randall. "Even if it surprises you, if you’re good at it, do it! Because that’s probably what you’re meant to do, what comes natural to you.”

So next time you're out in the early evenings, listen closely. Drown out the sounds of the hustle and bustle, and you might hear Randall and his trumpet.

Randall said his dream is to play on the San Antonio River Walk, or possibly on a beach somewhere with jazz trumpeter Rick Braun.

“I found out late, late in life that I could play. If you know you can play now, you keep playing jazz. Don’t stop. Don’t sell your horn. Don’t give it away. Play it for the rest of your life because there ain’t nothin’ like music," he said. “When I stop breathing, that’s when I’ll stop playing.”

© 2017 KENS-TV


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