Five-year-old Jovee Holmes stands in front of the Skagit Valley Coop, plucking at her teeny tiny violin. Her violin case is open, on the ground in front of her, propping up a handwritten sign: “My name is Jovee and I’m making money to help Casa Animal Shelter. Animals need help there. And Disneyland rides.”
Jovee is barely as tall as the music stand in front of her. And yes, she can already read music. She started busking last year, and has playing since she was three years old.
Jovee lives on Camano Island on a large swath of property with her parents and both sets of grandparents, all who help to home school her.The young violin busker has been a vegan since birth.
“You don’t eat animals and that stuff,” she explains. “And I’m also gluten free and mostly organic. Some of them I really like are avocados, tomatoes. This is really funny, I kind of like avocados a little better when they’re a little unripe. They taste yummier. I normally have them in guacamole.”
Jovee’s parents decided to stop eating meat when she was born, even though her mom, Taylor, says she ate meat all through her pregnancy.
“We wanted to teach Jovee how to be compassionate to living things,” Taylor says. “We felt like if we could show her that eating animals is wrong or that eating plant based foods were healthier, then she might be able to be more compassionate to not only other humans, but other living animals.”
“Do you know what?” Jovee asked me. “You know, like, fruits and vegetables and nuts? They want us to eat them!”
Jovee donates almost all the money she earns from busking to the local animal shelter and says she usually makes around $12. She usually plays for about 10 or 15 minutes. The most she’s raked in is $33.
Taylor says Jovee learned about busking from her violin teacher.
“She had asked me to take her but I was actually really shy about it. About, oh my gosh, what are people going to think if I take her to the street and have her violin case open with a sign that says ‘Give Me Money?'” Taylor said. “So I took her, and I felt myself getting red, but I told her, ‘Everybody’s going to enjoy watching you play and this is for your own development.'”
“And she succeeded at it and she got her confidence with performing in front of others,” she said. “It really has done amazing things for her confidence and her ability to do things for herself and be independent.”