His name was Percy Faith. The eldest of eight children, born to Abraham and Minnie Faith in Toronto, he was a gifted violinist. Greatness was within him, and a vibrant future was his to command until one day he used his hands to put out a fire that was engulfing his youngest sister. She was badly burned and scarred, but he saved her life. Unfortunately, his hands were also badly burned and scarred, and his career as a violinist ended before it began.
But Faith loved music. He turned from performing it to composing and arranging it. After reaching a pinnacle of success with CBC in Canada in the 1940s, he moved to New York and continued his career there. Eventually, the industry encouraged him to settle in Los Angeles, and there, he raised his family while becoming a prolific recording artist, with more than 60 albums, not to mention film scores and more. In 2012, he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame for his song “My Heart Cries for You.”
He loved to take popular songs and arrange them for an orchestra, allowing him to introduce Caribbean and Central and South American sounds to North America in the 1950s. It was his life’s passion (other than his family, whom he dearly adored). It is what stood out for me, that he loved what he did for his career.
I grew up listening to classical music and Faith (because he was my mother’s eldest brother), and now, as an adult, attending performances by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra is a regular part of my life.
It was a Friday night, and my wife and I went to the Oak Room in the Palliser Hotel after enjoying a performance by the orchestra. We sat to enjoy a drink and quiet conversation when a beautiful young woman walked to the center of the room, lifted a microphone and started to sing. Her name was Ellen Doty, and she had this sultry, breathy, beautiful voice as she sang some jazz standards. She had the room totally captivated. As she sang, a keyboardist suddenly appeared to accompany her, and it was magic.
After a few songs, another musician joined her. He played some saxophone and drummed on a box. And he had joy written all over his face. Creating and playing music that others can enjoy was what they were passionate about. I don’t remember the keyboardist’s name from that evening, but the other musician was Oliver Miguel. These are artists who love what they do, like my uncle did.
I have to admit, I love being a dentist. I love what we get to do every day. I love that what I do changes people’s lives. And I laugh when patients tell me that they could never be a dentist and do what I do. I tell them that is a good thing because if everyone was a dentist, I would not have any work to do.
With springtime now firmly staring us in our faces, as we strive to emerge from our winter homes and enjoy the outdoors again, remember to engage that passion and love what you do.
Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FADI, FICD, FACD, FPFA