All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Percy Faith

Percy Faith

One of the founding fathers of easy listening, but not always the purveyor of pablum he's made out to be. Faith was a child prodigy on the piano, but his hopes for a career as a concert pianist ended when he injured his hands in a fire when he was 18. He switched to arranging and conducting, working in hotel and theater orchestras in Toronto and eventually landing his own radio show on CBC in 1938.

In 1940, Faith moved to Chicago and became a naturalized citizen a few years later. He moved to New York City and worked in radio for a while until he joined the A&R staff of Decca. By 1950, he was working for Mitch Miller at Columbia, who found Faith's rich but not overbearing string work perfect for the sound he was trying to cultivate. Faith began recording instrumentals under his own name in 1951 and soon had a #1 hit with his adaptation of a popular Brazilian song, “Delicado.” Faith had three #1 hits: “Delicado” in 1952; “Theme from 'Moulin Rouge'” in 1953, and “Theme from 'A Summer Place'” in 1960.

Between 1951 and 1976, Faith recorded something like 85 albums for Columbia. Faith's strings and Ray Conniff's choral band gave Columbia a one-two punch that dominated easy listening sales for nearly three decades and now fills the shelves of thrift stores around the country. Conniff and Faith also served as the foundation for the Columbia Record Club, the mail-order outlet that was middle America's primary source of albums. Like Conniff, Faith's worst sin may have been that of being too good a craftsman. He worked strings, woodwinds, and brass together so seamlessly that the result often achieves a surface of schmaltz that belies the fine work underneath. And with that many albums, there is a certain amount of crap to be expected.

Read more

Tags

Albums

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.