Last night folk music lost one of our dearest friends. On October 24, Faith Petric died at the age of 98. She had been performing up through the last few years. (You can see videos of her performing Geritol Gypsy and You Ain’t Been Doing Nothing If You Ain’t Been Called a Red.) Faith was a mainstay of the San Francisco folk community and a mentor to hundreds, if not thousands, of musicians. Here’s a link to a lovely remembrance by Stephen Taylor.
At 98, it would be hard to call Faith’s death unexpected, but it’s a huge loss. I met Faith when I was fifteen, producing a benefit concert for the homeless at my high school in conjunction with the People’s Music Network conference that year in Washington DC. Being fifteen, and from the east, I’d never heard of her, but she was invited onstage by the other musicians. She had the most inviting personality of any performer I’d ever seen. Without any artifice, she led us all in Jerry and Bev Praver’s song, “This Old Man Should Go Back Home.” It became a staple of my repertoire for the rest of the Reagan administration.
Years later, Faith donated her beautiful recording of If I Could Be the Rain for a CD I produced, Singing Through the Hard Times – a Tribute to Utah Phillips. She was as gracious and warm as ever.
I was in touch with Faith only a few times since then, but I’ve always felt a warmth, admiration, and kinship with her. The world is a little sadder tonight for her loss.
Goodbye, Faith. It was a pleasure to know you.
Note: This post was updated with a couple of corrected details on October 31.