It's no secret Joseph Dearani, M.D., takes his work as a pediatric cardiac surgeon at Mayo Clinic seriously. Through the years, we've been honored to share a few stories about people who have benefitted from that work. People like Stefanie Thompson, Kieran Veitz, Karla Manley, Marcus Nichols, Bayasaa Bars, and of course, Lola Montilla.
But as passionate as he is about his work treating pediatric heart defects, it's not his only love. "I'm also a pretty diehard musician," he tells us. He's played tenor saxophone for about 20 years, and he even has a music studio in his home where he practices "from 4:30 to 5:30 a.m. every morning before coming to work."
Fortunately, Dr. Dearani doesn't keep his talents — medical or musical — to himself. He's also in a band. Or two, actually. The first is a jazz band called Take Two and Friends, which you can hear playing around Rochester. The second is a self-described "eclectic ensemble of pediatric cardiologists, surgeons, nurses and other medical professionals from children's hospitals across the country and around the world" called The Baby Blue Sound Collective. The band's name is inspired by an all-too-familiar sight to those used to caring for children with heart disease, many of whom are born blue due to a lack of oxygen caused by heart defects.
Since playing its first concert "at a black-tie event in New Orleans" in 2008, Dr. Dearani tells us the band has gotten together each year during medical meetings that members of the band typically attend. "Whenever we have a meeting, we usually play a gig together — either at a local nightclub or as part of the meeting itself," he says. Last February the band got its biggest break yet when it won first place in an amateur music contest for health professionals. The spoils? "A free recording of songs, and $3,000 donated to a charity of our choice," Dr. Dearani says.
The band donated the prize money to the Children's Heart Foundation right away. Writing and recording a full CD's worth of original songs, however, took more time. But they got the job done, and this coming weekend, in Philadelphia, the band will release its new "Home. Tonight. Forever." album at the 300-seat World Café Live.
Those who come to the party, Dr. Dearani tells us, will be treated to 17 original songs. And while each song features its own unique style and sound, they all tie back, in their own way, to children with heart disease. Like the album's second song, "Am I Able to Love?" which Dr. Dearani tells us was inspired by an encounter another surgeon in the band had with the parents of a child born with "a particularly severe" heart defect. "After he explained all of the physical limitations and what the future was going to be like for this child, the mother stopped him and said, 'Listen, I understand what you're saying. I only have one question: Will my daughter ever be able to love someone?' And so we named that song, 'Am I Able to Love?'"
For more on the band's story, including footage of a gig at Target Field in Minneapolis, click here. And if you can't make it out to Philly this weekend, you will be able to download the new "Home. Tonight. Forever." album from iTunes, Amazon or Spotify sometime after Feb. 3. All proceeds go to the Children's Heart Foundation.
Then hit a high note by sharing your comments below before using the social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.