Name: Candace Bellamy, M.D., is a family medicine physician at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas
Med school: James H. Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University
Residency: Bristol Family Practice, Johnson City, Tennessee
Bellamy is a physician by day and a jazz and soul singer by night. To better fulfill her passion, she relocated from Tennessee to Austin, Texas, where she has collaborated with many incredible songwriters and musicians: Ruth Carter (composer for Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robert Palmer, and John Mayall), bass-playing legend Jimi Calhoun (player with Dr. John, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Wilson Pickett, Sly Stone) and Jake Langley (Roberta Flack, Willie Nelson, K.D. Lang). Most recently, she’s also been involved in filming a documentary on women in medicine. Learn more at Candace_Bellamy and healermd.
What do you like about being a singer, and how did you get started?
I love being able to create songs, record in the studio, perform live and connect with people. I think that’s part of the reason I ended up in family practice, because I love people. I grew up loving music thanks to my mom, who introduced me to the music she grew up listening to: The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, all of the Motown greats. Growing up, I was told I should sing, but I wanted to be a doctor. Once I got out of medical residency and started practicing, I decided I needed a hobby. Someone was offering voice lessons, and I thought I would give it a try. Once I started voice lessons, I auditioned for the musical “Hello Dolly” and got a part singing in the chorus. I was hooked from there and started my first band and eventually moved to Austin to pursue music.
I love that music connects us to each other and that it creates memories. Even today, I can think of songs that were a meaningful part of my childhood.
How does performing work with your schedule as a physician?
It can be challenging at times, especially now that I’m directing a documentary, “Healer,” that focuses on women doctors. It’s really a balancing act, but I’ve always been a person with a lot of different interests who likes to stay busy, so it works for me.
Was there anything about singing that surprised you?
I think the thing that surprised me the most was that I would write songs, because I moved to Austin to sing and I thought that, in and of itself, would be work. The first time I sat down and co-wrote a song with Jimi Calhoun and Ruth Carter, they had a total of 70 years of songwriting experience. At that point, I didn’t even have one year of experience. It was very humbling but at the same time, they made me feel welcome.
What advice would you give to a physician who wants to be a professional singer?
I would say to go for it. Start taking voice lessons and connect with your community of musicians. Decide what genre you want to sing, and start going to music events and introducing yourself to other musicians. It’s a great way to find musicians to work with and build your music community.
How would you recommend a physician start?
Look online and see who’s offering voice lessons in your area. If you’re in a small area with limited access, you can find voice teachers online and take lessons using Skype. You can also travel to voice teachers who offer lessons. Music has brought me so much joy. From songwriting to recording and performing, it has been an amazing experience.
Music has brought me so much joy. From songwriting to recording and performing, it has been an amazing experience.