It’s not often that you ask your doctor to sing your diagnosis to you. Patients of Dr. Candace Bellamy might have that option. Bellamy, who grew up in Knoxville, has become a popular vocalist in Austin, Texas, and is on the eve of releasing her first album, “In My Lane.” Even if she were to sing that you were going to have to have a colonoscopy she could probably make it sound good. Bellamy is a powerful vocalist with a good sense of classic R&B and blues and more modern influences. Her new album (set for wide-release May 14) is a treat.
Bellamy’s plan for success started early.
“My mom, from the time I was very young, she would say, ‘You know, you can be anything. You can do anything,’” says Bellamy. “I really took that to heart. I believe anything I want to do is possible, because she instilled that in me at a very young age.”
Bellamy went to Vestal Elementary School and graduated from South Young High before moving on to Tusculum College. If you heard her sing back then, you probably went to church with her.
“I always loved music and grew up singing in different choirs, but once I went off to college I went into pre-med and I did a little bit of singing,” says Bellamy.
The decision to be a doctor came from television.
“I remember watching Phil Donahue and a woman delivered a baby on his show. That was the moment I decided ‘I’m gonna be a doctor!’”
That’s exactly the sort of thing that would make many of us decide we never wanted to be doctors.
The rigors of actual medical school and a medical residency left little time for anything else, so Bellamy’s music fell by the wayside.
“Once I got out, I decided I needed a hobby and I opened the paper and there was an ad for voice lessons,” says Bellamy.
Working in Southwest, Virginia at the time, she began working with community theater and started a band.
A friend suggested Austin as a good place for an aspiring musician. Bellamy visited, liked what she saw and landed a gig as a prison physician, but then moved on to working with the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
Establishing herself in the medical community might have been easier than in the music community.
“It’s challenging because there are so many incredible musicians here,” says Bellamy. “You just have to pay your dues. You have to work hard.”
Bellamy says her style wasn’t planned.
“Growing up, my mom listened to a lot of Diana Ross and the Supremes and Otis Redding and a lot of that old school R&B soul music. I loved that growing up. Then in Austin I listened to a lot of different genres and it just becomes a part of you. It just sort of developed organically from the experiences I’ve had with other musicians and other styles.”
The good doctor hopes to take some time off from medicine for a tour of the East Coast and, possibly, an overseas tour as well.
Bellamy says it is sometimes difficult having two demanding careers.
“I just go with a little less sleep. I can sleep when I die. I may be tired at the end of my work day, but if I have a music project I get re-energized.”
Wayne Bledsoe may be reached at 865-342-6444 or email@example.com. He also is the host of “All Over the Road” midnight Saturdays to 4 a.m. Sundays on WDVX-FM.