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David Bailey | Musician leaves legacy of living life to fullest page 2
Performer who sang about living life to the fullest dies in Charlottesville

 Former Stafford County resident David Bailey (right), with his children Kelcey and Cameron, died Oct. 2 after battling brain cancer for 14 years.
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Date published: 10/11/2010


He finished the walk by writing the song "To the World," scribbling the lyrics on a dollar bill, the only piece of paper he had with him.

The song starts:


Bailey quit his day job and became a singer-songwriter.

It was a leap of faith, but Leslie supported him wholeheartedly.

Sharing your husband with the world is hard. Sharing your husband when you don't know how much time he has left is even harder. But Leslie believed her husband had a calling from God.

Bailey started playing guitar as a teenager living in Germany. He was born in Beirut to a pair of Presbyterian missionaries. Music was a hobby, a passion.

But after cancer, it became his lifeline. Bailey wrote songs daily, penning lyrics on facing death, chemotherapy, family, coffee and airport security screenings.

He mainly performed in churches and coffee houses, quickly building a loyal following. He also sang at summertime youth conferences at Montreat in North Carolina.

"He's one of those rare songwriters that really had something to say," said Donny Holcombe, who produced Bailey's CDs in his Spotsylvania County recording studio.

"At first, we worked at a frantic pace," Holcombe said. "I was thinking we did not have a big window of time."

Cancer survivors, especially, responded to Bailey's music, and he wrote songs for the American Cancer Society and books for the cancer center at Duke University Medical Center.

In 2006, Bailey said: "Cancer saved my life: It showed me how precious the gift of time is. It forced me to overcome some fears and pursue a passion. It drove me to want to make a difference in the world and in other people's lives by sharing hope."


He toured often, wearing his trademark tie-dye bandana to hide the scars on his head.

He played guitar with the dexterity of James Taylor, wrote songs with the complexity of Bruce Cockburn's.

But the message was all David Bailey.

He once said: "The story is surviving, and we all want to survive, whether it's an illness or unemployment or divorce or abuse. Deep down, we want to survive."

His signature song was "One More Day," and Bailey had a leather bracelet branded with the words, to remind him each day was a gift.

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David Bailey's family and friends will hold a memorial service and concert Oct. 19 at Meadows Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville. The memorial will feature performances by Bailey's son, Cameron, and close friend Donny Holcombe. Bailey's daughter, Kelcey, suggests guests wear tie-dye.

David M. Bailey was born in Beirut to Kenneth and Ethel Bailey, Presbyterian missionaries. He attended Grove City College, where he met his wife, Leslie, while touring with the choir. David worked with computers, then became a professional musician. He is survived by his wife and two children, Kelcey, a college freshman, and Cameron, a high school junior. He has recorded 23 albums, but efforts are under way to create a final CD of songs Bailey recorded in the past year. For details on Bailey's work, visit davidmbailey.com.

--Amy Flowers Umble