Keeping Faith

Faith Petric, a legendary figure in the Bay Area folk music scene, passed away peacefully in her bed at a San Francisco hospice on October 25 at age 98. All local folkies knew her from the Friday night S.F. Folk Club jams she hosted starting in 1966 at her home on Clayton Street.
 
Born in an Idaho log cabin, Faith sang cowboy and country songs at first, and then, during the Spanish Civil war, protest songs. She wrote a regular column, “The Folk Process,” for Sing Out! magazine, performed for 20 years with the Chautauqua Circus, helped found the Portable Folk Festival in the early ’70s, and celebrated her birthday with a gig at Freight & Salvage every ten, and more recently, every five years. For her memorization of thousands of songs, she was called “the Fort Knox of Folk Music.”
 
But she would also want to be remembered for her politics. As a Wobbly – that alone says something – she was a longtime progressive. She marched in Selma for civil rights. She attended the 2008 unveiling of a monument dedicated to the American veterans of the Spanish Civil War, and sang along with the Musicians’ Action Group on “Venga Jaleo” and “Vive la Quince Brigada.” She was a longtime friend of Pete and Toshi Seeger, who would visit Faith when they were here. Pete called her "one of the most extraordinary people in the world." I have also read that Faith was a founder and the first member of Musicians Union Local 1000, the North American Traveling Musicians Union.
 
Faith loved to sing. "I plan to keep singing until I can't sing anymore," she once said, and she kept her word. She sang songs of peace, justice, aging, and cowboys until shortly before she passed.
 
Faith was soft-spoken, quiet, and quietly influential. She was a major force in folk music in the Bay Area and across America. We miss her voice, her singing, her leadership, and most of all her love, which permeated all she did.
 
Rest in peace, sweet Faith. We keep you in our hearts.