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Mary Faith Rhoads, mountain dulcimer

Mary Faith Rhoads and Dave Fry.jpg

Mary Faith & Dave Fry

Mary Faith Rhoads Lewis grew up on a farm outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania, where her mother played the piano and encouraged her children to play an instrument. 

Mary Faith was a prodigy…who hated to read music. So, the early piano and violin lessons didn’t last very long. In 11th grade, a friend helped her start on the guitar and she started playing publicly in 1963, shortly after graduation.

During college, having abandoned the idea of following her parents’ medical footsteps, her interest grew to include unusual instruments such as autoharp, 5 string banjo and Appalachian Dulcimer as well as guitar. She wove her path between Old and her own New Songs.

Her first trip to Europe was at 20 and convinced her that it would be possible to make a living being a musician there. When she returned in 1970, she connected with Paris and played in the first American Style Festival at Lambesc in August of that year. After that, she was in great demand there.

She first met John Pearse as she was getting off a stage in Paris, as John was coming to the stage in 1971. Continuing to travel back and forth between Pennsylvania and France, she started playing the joy of her life, the hammered dulcimer in 1975, as part of a dance band revival for the occasion of the United States Bicentennial. Travelling with backpack, hammer dulcimer, mountain dulcimer and guitar through Europe also got the notice of the American Embassy in Paris and she did three tours for the State Department, travelling through most of Africa, Saudi Arabia, Madagascar and Greece. On the last tour, she was accompanied by John Pearse and Joe Dobbs.

In 1980, John decided to leave Martin, and, with Mary Faith, started Breezy Ridge Instruments to produce the Breezy Ridge Hammer Dulcimer. The two married and opened their own company to supply folk music and folk instruments around the world.  Even after their separation and John's passing, Mary Faith very passionately continues to operate the business.

She also continues to play and teach, most recently returning from the Old-time and Traditional Music Week at Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamp.

We are pleased to have Mary Faith join us.

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