The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke

Family Scrapbook | Meet David M. Bailey

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David M. Bailey

David Bailey was a musician, a songwriter, a survivor of glioblastoma multiforme, and the recipient of The Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation Spirit Award.

David's story is one of tenacious faith and gentle passion. On July 4, 1996, doctors told David he had a malignant brain tumor and would be dead by Christmas. David left his corporate career and returned to his first love of songwriting and performing, with a goal of sharing the hope on which his life depended. Six years, seven albums, 39 states and over 300 concerts later, David, his songs, and his passions are alive and well. 

The son of Presbyterian missionaries, David spent his childhood in Beirut, Lebanon. He learned his first chords from his seventh grade English teacher, then went on to study classical guitar. David soon began writing his own songs and first entered the studio at the age of 13. The Lebanese civil war forced him to complete high school in Germany where he spent his weekends as a street musician; during these years he also formed a small ensemble that toured throughout Central and Eastern Europe. In college, he played extensively in an original acoustic duo, but then put his guitar away and entered corporate America. Ten years later, following his diagnosis, David returned to the stage in what has unexpectedly become a dynamic solo career.

David's songs are reminiscent of folk legends like James Taylor and Cat  Stevens, though he also points to the work of Kahlil Gibran and J.S. Bach as being influential in his writing. Strong melodies and intricate finger picking set a perfect backdrop for his warm baritone as he delivers keen and witty insights about his favorite topics:  time, faith, hope, love, and dreams. Often hailed as a “prophet with a guitar; ” David pens lyrics that resonate with surprising depth and clarity among audiences of all ages, keeping his music both universal and timeless. His story has been featured on CBS News/48 Hours, 60 Minutes, Fox/Health, Family Health channel, and NPR; articles about him have appeared in newspapers and magazines across the country. He was a 1999 Kerrville NewFolk finalist and his recordings have received many other songwriting awards. Yet it is alone with his audiences where David finds his greatest joy: from Beirut to Budapest, from Pittsburgh to Portland, and on hundreds of stages in between, he has inspired and entertained thousands of listeners. In churches, conference centers and coffeehouses, David challenges all of us to live passionately and to treasure the beauty of each new day.

More information about David can be found on his website,

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Hopeful Resources



Maintaining hope is not always easy. In times of crisis, you may need extra support and encouragement from your family, your health care team, and other survivors of brain tumors. Here are some resources that may help you maintain a positive outlook.