Bailey, 33, thought his dream of becoming a singer
had died when he discovered TikTok
and a local gas station
Bailey has amassed over a million TikTok followers in less than two weeks since he began posting videos from the Super Serve station near his home
in Houma, Louisiana
. In the viral
clips, cashiers make song requests and Bailey serenades them at the checkout counter, eliciting heartwarming (and frequently hilarious) reactions from surprised shoppers throughout the store.
“Bear! I've been waiting for you,” cashier Melissa McGee, also known as Mama to locals, exclaims as Bailey walks in and breaks out into a cover of John Legend
's "All of Me."
@bearbailey1 - All Of Me by @johnlegendofficial #cover #foryou #foryoupage #tiktok #adayinmylife TikTok muted the sound on the last one! #viral #letsgo #tag him yall!
Bailey, whose real name is James but who has gone by Bear since childhood, told Stardia that becoming a professional singer has been a lifelong ambition of his.
He began posting his work
on TikTok in October 2020, with just under 140,000 followers before the gas station serenades took off, and he now has 1.4 million followers as of Wednesday night.
It all started when Renee Hayes and Ashley McGee, both Super Serve employees, asked McGee for a song.
“They found out I could sing, you know, just from living around here, and so on days when I went in there to get a snack or whatever, they'd say, 'Hey, Bear, you've got to sing, you've got to sing for me,'” Bailey explained.
behind the counter filmed him the first time
he did it, and Bailey decided to post the video online.
@bearbailey1 original sound - Bear Bailey All My Life by #kciandjojo #cover #gasstation #foryou #foryoupage #adayinmylife #letmeknow #reaction
“It’s a very humbling feeling,” said Bailey, who works as a welder during the day. “I’ve sang my entire life, and, you know, I’m 33, and you just get to an age where you kind of give up on your dream because you think, ‘This is never going to happen.’”
“And then this happens, and it kind of reaffirms, like, hey, I don’t need to give up,” he continued, adding, “I love what it shows my 5-year-old daughter, like, Dad didn’t quit
Melissa McGee, whom Bailey described as "the mama of the local neighborhood," said she considers Bailey to be a son and is overjoyed that his videos have gone viral.
“We adore him,” she said, “and he has an incredible voice that deserves to be signed.”
Bailey explained that his hype squad is mostly strangers, but he enjoys their reactions.
“I really do walk up and people
have no idea,” he explained, “but now people literally go over there and wait to see if I'll come in, and it's really crazy.”
Many TikTok users have expressed their admiration for Bailey's songs and the way they bring people together.
“Thank you for this feel-good video. It’s nice to see people liking each other. Americans are awesome,” one person said in response to a video of Bailey singing Keith Urban’s “’Til Summer Comes Around.”
While the majority of Bailey's posts are currently covers, the singer has stated that he also writes original music
— though his current goal is to continue doing what he's doing.
“The dream now is just to keep pushing positive vibes to keep bringing unity like our community,” Bailey said, adding, “And the dream now is to write songs that can just help maybe one or two people out — out of a bad situation or out of a bad mood or brighten somebody’s day.”
And he's already doing it; in one of his most recent videos, he gave back to McGee and her daughters after receiving donations
“They’re a big part of this, too; they hold the camera, they talk in the songs, and all that stuff, and they really helped, so I just wanted to give back,” he explained.