Patients inspire oncology consultant’s first album

Whoever says that the medical profession can’t tell one end of a guitar from the other clearly hasn’t encountered Belfast-based Joe O’Sullivan. By day, he is professor of oncology at Queen’s University, and clinical director of Northern Ireland Cancer Centre. By night, he’s a guitar strummer and songwriter, and the man behind the album, Take a Deep Breath, which, he says, was inspired by his experiences working with prostate cancer patients.

Up until recently, playing music was “nothing too serious”, and while he isn’t about to give up the day job, the transition from performing in cover bands to writing his own material has taken root. “My first few attempts at song writing would have been internalising,” O’Sullivan admits, “and they were about the usual stuff, really. The first song that made an impact on me became the album’s title track. I’d witnessed a wife comforting her husband, who was dying. They were a young couple who I knew really well, and she was holding his hand, asking him to take a deep breath.”

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