For Veterans Day, Central Virginia VA Health Care System (CVHCS) in Richmond wanted to do something a little different by asking registered nurse Tracey Welborn to sing a tribute to Veterans to be shared on our social media channels. Prior to his health care profession, Welborn trained and toured as an opera singer.

VA nurse Tracey Welborn

Learn about his history and enjoy his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, which he has graciously devoted to our Veterans.

How Welborn went from the Opera House to the Veterans Hospital

For years, Welborn sang and performed for audiences across the globe. Then, Welborn decided it was time to become a registered nurse. Luckily for the Richmond VA, he landed in the education department. There, he trains fellow staff members how to engage with patients in a clinical setting.

“All the world’s a stage and part of life is performing,” Welborn stated, paraphrasing Shakespeare. “There is a connection that can happen when you perform on an emotional or even empathetic level. If you can tap into that with a patient, putting yourself in their shoes, you find the humanity in those interactions.”

Tracey Welborn and Edward Lowe before a concert at Guilford College in 1992.

Welborn received a full scholarship to study at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. He credits his path in life to his mentor, Edward Lowe. Lowe was the choir director at Guilford College and would give free vocal lessons to Welborn. He urged Welborn to pursue further training as a singer.

“My work with Ed was a gift that has given me my beautiful family, a life in the arts and now a life caring for Veterans,” said Welborn. “I am a lucky man.”

Singing Puccini with National Virtual Medical Orchestra

Throughout his singing career, Welborn performed at the New York City Opera, Opera de Lausanne, Canadian Opera Company, Los Angeles Philharmonic and many others. Since the pandemic in early 2020, Welborn has since gone virtual, partnering with the National Virtual Medical Orchestra (NVMO) to serve as a tenor soloist for Giacomo Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.”

“I heard him singing Nessun Dorma. I could tell in just a few seconds that he was a one-of-a-kind talent in the medical and musical community,” said John Masko, conductor of the NVMO.

NVMO provides a space for medical musicians whose orchestras have been shuttered by COVID-19 to come together to play their instruments, decompress and share their talents with a wider audience.

In the top photo, Welborn (left) performs in Don Pasquale at the Virginia Opera. This opera is usually set in Rome, but director David Gately set the stage in the “Wild West.”


Megan Kon is a public affairs specialist at the Richmond VA.

Share this story

Published on Nov. 11, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.4 min.

Views to date: 134

More Stories

  • Houston VA has performed more than 160 head and neck free flap reconstructive surgeries since the program was developed in 2017.

  • Chronic pain interferes with women Veterans’ daily lives. Talk to your VA provider about an individualized pain management plan.

  • Do you have “text neck?” or pain in your head and neck? This acupressure for head and neck pain can help.