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Percy Faith

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Percy Faith


Percy Faith (7 April 1908, Toronto, Ont. Can. – 9 February 1976, Encino, Calif.) was a Canadian/American bandleader, orchestrator, composer and conductor.

Faith played violin and piano as a child, and played in theatres and at Massey Hall. After his hands were badly burned in a fire, he turned to conducting, and his live orchestras used the new medium of radio broadcasting.

Beginning with stations CKNC and CKCL, Faith was a staple of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's live-music broadcasting from 1933 to 1940, when he resettled in Chicago, Illinois, Chicago. In the early 1940s, Faith was orchestra leader for the Carnation Contented program on NBC. From 1948-1949 he also served as the orchestra leader on the CBS radio network program The Coca-Cola Hour (also called The Pause That Refreshes).

In 1945, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He made many recordings for Voice of America. After working briefly for Decca Records, he worked for Mitch Miller at Columbia Records, where he turned out dozens of albums and provided arrangements for many of the pop singers of the 1950s, including Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Johnny Mathis for Mathis's 1958 Christmas album titled Merry Christmas, and Guy Mitchell for whom Faith co-wrote with Carl Sigman Mitchell's number-one single, My Heart Cries for You.

Known for his lush arrangements of pop and Christmas standards, Faith is often credited with popularizing the "easy listening" or "mood music" format. Faith became a staple of American popular music in the 1950s and continued well into the 1960s. Though his professional orchestra-leading career began at the height of the swing era, Faith refined and rethought orchestration techniques, including use of large string sections, to soften and fill out the brass-dominated popular music of the 1940s.

His most famous and remembered recordings are Delicado (1952), The Song from Moulin Rouge (1953) and Theme from A Summer Place (1959), which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1961. With the advent of harder rock sounds in the 1970s, Faith's elegant arrangements fell out of favour with the listening and record-buying public, although he continued to release albums as diverse and contemporary as Jesus Christ Superstar and Black Magic Woman.

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