Sunday, June 10, 2012, 1:30pm
Faith Petric Stage
Faith Craig Petric was born on September 13, 1915 in a log cabin on a homestead near the Clearwater River in Northern Idaho. She's the youngest of four children, all born in that same cabin, which was built from trees cut on homestead land.
"When did you start singing?" she is often asked. "There never was a time I remember that I didn't sing", says Faith. "First it was in church. My father, in addition to being a schoolteacher, carpenter, farmer, and inventor, was a Methodist minister, and he had a fine tenor voice. Church consisted of lots of singing, and I still sing hymns I learned at age five and younger. Hymns have wonderful opportunities for harmonies, almost as good as sea shanties, I think.
"We had an old pump organ at home, and later a piano, and we would sing 'Juanita', 'Old Oaken Bucket', 'When You and I were Young', and many, many such treasures. In the mid-20s, my brother Glenn and I somehow found cowboy songs and memorized these along with 'Abdullah Bulbul Ameer', which we would act out with great wooden swords. In high school and college I sang in glee clubs, and then in the 1930s, I found the great songs of the Spanish civil War, and radical, union, and topical songs of all kinds."
Shortly after retiring form her 9-to-5 job in 1970 at age 55, Faith and 14 friends formed the Portable Folk Festival and toured the country for three months. She says she was "bit by the bug", and became a traveling folk musician, working festivals and folk clubs across the United States and into Canada, with forays to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark and two two month long performing tours in Australia.
And she's still at it, singing traditional, contemporary, topical, labour, radical, and outrageous song-any songs with a tune or special meaning that appeals-wherever she goes.