Musician lives in van to save money for violin


BOONE, NC – Homelessness is on the rise in the mountains of North Carolina. The shelters are at full capacity most of the year.

The High number of countries at any given time in 2020 found that nearly 400 people in our mountain counties are struggling with homelessness, and that number continues to grow every year.

What would you like to know

  • Homelessness increases in the mountains
  • Musician lives in his van to improve his life
  • He plays on King Street every day to save money for a wooden violin

Being homeless was a choice for Timothy Kelley to improve his life. He lives in his van with only the essentials inside.

“I have my mattress and a little bed frame here,” Kelley said. “I’m going around like this and going to find a place to park.”

He likes to stay somewhere near the woods, but admits it’s not always possible and parking lots are the second best thing. It’s a place that belongs to him, he says, and also where he keeps his precious guitar.

“When you have dreams you have to sacrifice yourself and work for it, and that’s my sacrifice,” Kelley said.

These are sacrifices he is prepared to make in order to obtain more instruments. Kelley currently performs daily on King Street to raise funds, and her electric violin is unmistakable.

“I come from a big family where each of my siblings play instruments,” Kelley said.

Kelley and her four siblings were homeschooled. They learned to play instruments in their country house after Kelley saw a man on TV playing the violin and wanted to try it out.

He said it was quiet where they lived and there wasn’t much to do, so the siblings got a group together and started to roam the country.

“The parents got more controlling, and it got abusive, and it didn’t make sense to live there anymore,” Kelley recalls.

He now lives in his vehicle and plays every day to save enough money for a wooden violin.

“Music is powerful because you have the full attention of the audience, and it’s so powerful because it can bring joy, tears, healing. I feel like music has changed people’s lives,” Kelley said. “To see someone come by and be filled with joy or to see someone come by and listen, honest and good, makes me as happy as a tip.”