david m bailey succumbs to brain cancer

Singer/songwriter defied odds for a dozen years, inspired countless fans

October 4, 2010


david m bailey, a singer/songwriter who moved audiences as much with his story of personal courage in the face of terminal cancer as with his music, succumbed to Glioblastoma on Oct. 2 in hospice care near his home in Charlottesville, Va. He was 44.

The son of Presbyterian missionaries, Kenneth E. and Ethel Bailey, bailey was raised in Beirut, Lebanon. He spent some of his youth in Germany — where he learned to play the guitar and began writing songs — before returning to the United States, where he graduated from Grove City (Pa.) College.

bailey often joked that he "did all right in college but flunked corporate America." In July 1996, he was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a particularly virulent form of brain cancer. He then quit his corporate job and turned to songwriting and performing full-time.

"They told me I had six months. They were wrong," bailey said. "Despite what you might hear, hope is a very real thing, and with every passing day, there are more and more reasons to hope."

For 14 years he defied that diagnosis, writing and performing virtually non-stop, covering 45 states and 21 countries. His concerts were deeply personal, brutally honest accounts — rendered in a musical style that has been compared to James Taylor and Cat Stevens — of his struggles with his illness and his determination to make the most of whatever time God gave him.

His signature tune was "One More Day." The chorus goes:

One more day when you can hold your children

One more day you can hold your wife

One more day when you can watch the grass grow

One more day when you can live your life.

In 2008, the cancer returned and bailey underwent a series of treatments that continued until his death. He was working on his 22nd album when his final illness overtook him. He was admitted to hospice Labor Day weekend.

bailey is survived by his parents; his wife Leslie; two teenage children, Kelcey and Cameron; a sister, Sarah; and more fans and admirers than can be counted.

Memorial service arrangements are pending.

One More Day

words and music by david m bailey

Don't let the grass grow beneath your busy feet

Don't let the grass grow above you when you rest

You've got one more day to get to where you're going

One more day to give your very best

Don't let the clouds forever block your sunshine

Don't let the sunshine blind you on your way

You might have years of tears put behind you

But right now you've got one more day

One more day when you can hold your children

One more day you can hold your wife

One more day when you can watch the grass grow

One more day when you can live your life

Don't let the cynics tell you they know better

Better yet, don't let them talk to you at all

You've got one more day to prove that they know nothing

One more day to find your private call

Don't let your loved ones ever doubt your passion

Don't let your passion ever start to fade

I know how it feels to be so frightened

But right now, you've got one more day


One more day when you can hold your children

One more day you can hold your wife

One more day when you can watch the grass grow

One more day when you can live your life

  1. Back in 2003, my friend asked if I would like to go hear a singer named David M. Bailey who was singing at a nearby church that night. I was instantly drawn to his soft, commanding voice, his love for Jesus, and his wry sense of humor. My favorite song is "The First Breakfast". David asked the crowd if we all knew about the Last Supper. Yes, of course. Well, he said, this is about the very First Breakfast in the world. I still cry and laugh when I hear that song and I play it to my Confirmation students every year in class... and other songs of David's too. I feel that David's soul was truly linked with the Holy Spirit and he was giving a constant Yes and a wink as he drank his coffee and wrote his songs and lived his life. I want the Family of David M. Bailey to know that he is touching more souls than they can imagine, and that his powerful spirit is the finest example of how God lives in them and in us that try to choose, like David, to say Yes everyday. God bless you. Live your life in joy.

    by Mary Marzano

    May 7, 2013

  2. What a wonderful inspiration! I too, have brain cancer; a survivor for 8 years. thank you for this.

    by Andy Noel

    November 1, 2011

  3. I was lucky to have seen David perform twice. His songs were so sincere, full of his love for his family, his faith and his passion for life. He made me cry, with his songs and his story about his illness. But most of all he inspired me, and made me realize how lucky I was that God crossed our path. I was very fond of David and I hope he meets my Son, Gary in Heaven who died, eleven years ago with the same brain cancer, at the age of 38. I'm sure David is happy up in Heaven, free of his cancer, singing his songs to God.

    by Marilyn Johns

    May 9, 2011

  4. Oh David. I'm so sorry to know that you are no longer with us physically but you are certainly in our hearts. We still call your name. An African belief is that as long as you call the persons name, they are still alive. David. Thank you for teaching me the importance of living in the moment. I think fondly and talk often about how you sang the announcements for us at the Transformation Conference in Charlotte, NC. I know that wherever you are now, you are singing and we continue to hear your songs in our hearts.

    by Wanda M. Lundy

    March 22, 2011

  5. I met David at the first Transformation Conference, and then later at the Vanderbilt Presby. Church in Naples, Florida. His sensitivity to life, and his ready wit made him a real winner. I only have one of his CDs, but I play it constantly in my truck, especially when I'm headed to the hospital on my "calling day". David: I hope you are at peace. Just have the coffee going for when I get there!

    by The Rev. Dr. Fred Schulz

    December 15, 2010

  6. David was four years behind me at Grove City College. I had the pleasure of introducing David when he played a concert at Palos Park (Ill.) Presbyterian Community Church about ten years ago. I was very impressed by David's ability, passion, and faith. He left his mark on the world and certainly made the most of the "borrowed time" God gave him.

    by Kevin Stone

    December 12, 2010

  7. We heard David at a Melanoma Conference in Philadelphia in 2007. My husband was in stage four then and eventualy died of brain mets, but that day we laughed and cried with David's banter and song. RIP

    by Margaret Cook

    October 29, 2010

  8. I will miss David and his hopeful presence. He gave hope to my husband, Jim, who suffers from the same cancer and sees the same doctor- a hope that only reveals itself when I play David's music to Jimmy. David will live on forever at the Cancer Treatment Center of America where I work and share his music everyday. Rest in Peace David, and thank you so much for sharing your sole, talent, and love with all of us.

    by Mary C. McLaughlin

    October 21, 2010

  9. My thoughts and prayers are with the whole Bailey family, and with all of David's friends and admirers. David was an inspiration to me and to our youth and young adults. His faith, honesty and courage will always be remembered and treasured!

    by Tom Rice

    October 12, 2010

  10. I first met David at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston when he performed at a Brain Tumor Conference maybe 10 years ago. My daughter was fighting her own battle with a brain tumor and she became personal friends with David. He gave her and our family the hope and inspiration to fight her own battle . He was a very personable young man and a great performer. We came to care for him very much. Our daughter lost her battle four years ago after her diagnosis seven years earlier. Our deepest sympathy goes out to David's parents, wife, and children. We know, we've been there.

    by Fredi Weinbaum

    October 12, 2010

  11. David has many friends here with the Michael Quinlan Brain Tumor Foundation in Louisville, KY. The Foundation has just merged with the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky, whose staff and membership are also acquainted with David. Other Louisville support organizations turned many on as David's friends. We love him and will miss him terribly. Our hearts and prayers for healing peace go out to his family. David's soul joins with God. His spirit remains with us. We love David!

    by Cindy Rosser

    October 12, 2010

  12. I heard the angel sing with david here on earth. Now they're singing together again. david and his words will always hold a special place in my heart.

    by Jill Lancaster

    October 11, 2010

  13. I have been touched by David's story and by his music. He has been a blessing to many. My thoughts and prayers are with his family as you celebrate David's life and as you grieve. May God's love surround you, giving you comfort and strength for the journey ahead.

    by Mary Lou McMillin

    October 9, 2010

  14. Thank you David for your inspiring music. I have been so encouraged these past couple of years by hearing your music in person and listening to your C-D of music and poetry dedicated to the encouragement of pastors. You have shared God's hope with many of us!

    by Charles Walden

    October 9, 2010

  15. Thanks for a very good obit.

    by Ken Edelman

    October 8, 2010

  16. david has "One More Day" and other songs on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDJJ20_nABI

    by Bruce Gillette

    October 8, 2010

  17. I was the the New Wilmington Mission Conference when he performed one of his first songs. I was impressed by his intensity. I was at the Conference this past summer to hear his last concert; in a sense, coming full circle. I've had the privilege of hearing him many times over the years and have many of his CD's. "A Deep Well for the Pastor" is well worth it for those in ministry.

    by Ross Slaughter

    October 7, 2010

  18. I knew David through his connection with the Summer Youth Institute at Pittssburgh Theological Seminary. His wonderful music and joyous testimony were unfailing highlights of that gathering, for the students and staff alike. David's family are certainly in the prayers of all of us here who knew and loved him, for the warmth of God's presence and assurance in these terrible days. Thank you, brother David, for your ministry; thank you, God, for the gift of David's presence with us. And, thank God that we will meet again.

    by Steven Tuell

    October 7, 2010

  19. David was an incredible gift to this world and I have no doubt that God smiled as David asked for his first cup of coffee in heaven. David was scheduled for his second Christmas concert at my church on December 5 of this year and we have decided to go ahead with the concert to celebrate David's life. We will hold a memorial celebration of his life and the resurrection playing his songs and showing videos of his past performances at our church. Remember to "Love the Time" and celebrate One More Day."

    by Rev. Bonnie M. Orth

    October 7, 2010

  20. david came to a concert in Birmingham, AL and enchanted the whole audience, including some children. Even after the concert, he kept in touch with them. What a wonderful example of what the grace of God means! Let us all continue in that example as a living tribute to him and to God!

    by Marian E. Bauer

    October 7, 2010

  21. I feel blessed to be among the many hundreds of people touched by David's zest for life. Spending several weeks with him in Korea (NWMC Summer Service) while we were in college, remains an unforgettable experience.

    by Steve Oglesbee

    October 7, 2010

  22. My heart is saddened by his death. David Bailey is now singing in heaven. He was my inspiration and encouragement. Thanks to God for his life and death.

    by Pastor Kris Poontajak

    October 7, 2010

  23. A meeting with david was a blessing all its own. I am so grateful that he touched my life and I thank his wife and children for supporting him in his journey and sharing him with the world.

    by Dawn Carder

    October 7, 2010

  24. David's story, and his faith, have been and will be, an inspiration to thousands of Christians facing cancer and other illnesses or crisis. The power of both hope and prayer, are woven throughout his music. David's God-given talents, used in such a meaningful way, should act as a tipping point for others who take their own lives, families, and gifts for granted each day, and impel them to begin living in a way that God intends--- to serve others and God, to the fullest!

    by Lori Farmer, Gulf Breeze, Florida

    October 7, 2010

  25. I, too, met david first at the National Transformation Conference several years ago and was so moved then that we invited him to Long Island to play. He came and returned 3 more times, twice to our church and once to a neighboring church. He was amazing and his life and music will inspire us for a lifetime and beyond.

    by Rev. Betsy Simpson

    October 7, 2010

  26. Though I never met nor heard David in person, I felt I came to know David online through his words & music which revealed the depth of his very being. I came to deeply respect, admire, and truly love David. Tears came when I learned of his death. David knew patience & endurance in suffering...and hope did not disappoint David because God's love was poured into his heart through the Holy Spirit. May his beloved wife, children, and parents be blessed with comfort and peace.

    by Jean Larson

    October 6, 2010

  27. I met David when I did my internship at his church. His love for God and music have touched so many! His faith carried him all these years and his strength gave courage to others. David will be missed and I am confident that he has gone home to our Lord! Prayers for his family - may God's surrounding hand hold you close and David's music carry you through these days!

    by Joanna Dunn

    October 6, 2010

  28. We had the honor of having David be our keynote speaker at a NM Cancer Survivorship Conference and everyone in the audience loved him. His songs spoke to our hearts, his story spoke to our lives and his words spoke to our spirits. Thank you for blessing us with your presence. Until we are reunited again, we will all miss you David.

    by Martha Powell

    October 6, 2010

  29. I met David a few years after my son Kevin lost his battle with a brain tumor. David and his music have gotten me through many a day since then. He will be missed by so many people. he had such a way with words and music. May he rest in peace now and now he truly can have coffee with the angels.

    by Cecelia Mullin

    October 6, 2010

  30. I with my family and Fellowship share the baileys their bereavement and sorrow. We mention them always in our prayers that the Lord would comfort them and wipe every tear from heir eyes and fill their hearts with Hope to continue to witness to the Love and memory to their beloved David. We all believe that he is with Jesus, comforted and free of pain. We thank God for the wonderful life he witnessed and inspired so many and was the wonderful example for many. He will stay in our hearts and his songs words and tunes, will stay a living witness to his love and excellent work. We love you Baileys. GB & Family

    by Georges Bitar

    October 5, 2010

  31. david's creative genius, skilled musicianship, and radical faith have left a high calling for the rest of us. I'm especially thankful for his Roger Harp Memorial Concert at Louisville PTS, and the CD "Deep Well" he Commissioned w/ Rev. Steve McCutchan http://www.smccutchan.com/?page_id=356 - Leslie you, and your family will be especially with the PPCN's prayers at the end of this month - and you are welcome to be our guests now, or next year!

    by Ken Waddell

    October 5, 2010

  32. We had the amazing joy of having David come and sing for the youth of Central Florida Presbytery and our lives were shaken. Thank you God for such a precious and courageous testimony that nothing can separate us from you, and that illness does not define you...grace does. Thank you for David, thank you for his family and thank you for his newly song now being performed in heaven...

    by Ruthie Merced

    October 5, 2010

  33. I met David when he was a student at Grove City College. He had a wonderful spirit back then that he never lost. David had that blend of creativity, love of life along with a love of God. David's dad is one of the people I most respect. David had the same energy of his dad, but seemed always to be himself. When the cancer first came into his life, he did not give up. Instead he gave others hope. He sang in a couple of the churches I served and he blessed my people and he blessed me. David's family will especially be in my heart and in my prayers.

    by Dave Bleivik

    October 5, 2010

  34. David was such an inspiration for me personally. his music got me through some very dark days as I continue to deal with brain cancer. If he performed within 500 miles of where I live, I would travel to see him. You will be missed and my deepest sympathy to your family.

    by Vickie Bonitz

    October 5, 2010

  35. Thank you, david, for showing us what it means to be consumed by a calling and for giving faith a memorable voice.

    by David Willerup

    October 4, 2010

  36. I am very sad to learn of David's death. I came to personally know David and his music about six years ago. Our presbytery's transformation event design team invited him to be our musical keynoter. Shuttling him from the hotel to the venues, never-ending stops at Starbucks, and watching him capture the hearts of the audience were experiences I'll fondly remember for a long time. I recall how David took real life seriously, authentically, and loved his family he lived with and those who loved his music. He emailed me and said he added a link to my website on his site and this news made my day. Joking he said, not many pastors make it to his list. I laughed. His music will always be in my playlist and his family in my prayers. Keep On Walking... that's what he practiced, now perfected in Christ, as we all in our own way, do the same. Kevin Yoho General Presbyter, Newark Presbytery PC(USA) www.twitter.com/kevinyoho

    by Kevin Yoho

    October 4, 2010