Photo by Kendall Atwater

The October edition of The Rant Monthly features musicians who “cut their teeth” in Sanford before going on to bigger things. Get a copy to learn about other artists like Black Sheep, Floyd Council, Taylor Phillips and Youth League.

Thursday: Aslan Freeman | Friday: Britton Buchanan
Saturday: Faith Bardill | Sunday: Stephen Brewer

Like that other Sanford native from the Voice, Faith Bardill has her own “singing competition” story, albeit, far fewer people saw it.

Bardill was 13 and on a family trip to Disney World when she signed up for “American Idol: The Experience” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. What was supposed to be a day full of coasters, Toy Story rides and Mickey ice cream bars instead became a full day of competition, earning a Golden Ticket and winning the whole thing.

Bardill, who had performed back home with the Temple Teens and had been practicing with a vocal coach, was hooked. She wanted music to be her life.

Ten years later, she’s living that dream.

The 2018 Carolina Country Music Awards Female Artist of the Year and the 2015 and 2016 Carolina Music Awards Female Artist of the Year, Bardill has developed her sound and style over the past decade performing live throughout her home state and, most recently, in places she never dreamed of playing (cities like Las Vegas, countries like Belize). She fronted Faith Bardill and the Back Row Saints as a teenager before going solo and leading the Faith Bardill Band.

She’s released multiple EPs with original music and has made a living playing those songs and her favorite Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Elvis Presley songs during live shows. In addition to the accolades, she’s appeared on stage with a number of renowned national artists like Justin Moore, Craig Campbell and Michael Ray.

COVID-19 was a setback, of course. A slate of shows in March, April and May were canceled, but Bardill has gotten back on the horse in recent weeks playing the aforementioned Vegas show and multiple gigs in Myrtle Beach, and she has 10 performances slated in October in Sanford, Pinehurst, Raleigh and multiple cities in South Carolina.

“It’s been a difficult few months,” she says. “But playing in South Carolina has really helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel and to stay positive. I’m grateful for where I am right now.”

Where she is is on the brink of, hopefully, something “big.” She recorded music in Nashville earlier this year and has released three songs in 2020 — her most recent single, “Carolina Rain,” made it to No. 1 on the Music Mafia Radio independent artist charts. She’s working on new music and is particularly excited about one song that has “potential” for bigger things.

Of course, “making it big” to Bardill isn’t what you might think.

“I just want a steady living playing music,” she says. “I want to still be able to play shows and live my life doing what I love. I don’t care about being famous. As long as I’m releasing music that people can connect with, that’s really the dream.”

The past 10 years have provided several “pinch me” moments for Bardill, some of them small — like a young girl approaching her after a show at Sanford’s Depot Park and telling her she wanted to be just like her — and some of them bigger in scale — a packed venue singing along with her in Vegas in 2019.

“It’s one of those moments when you can feel the magic in the room,” she says. “It was pretty cool.”

— by Billy Liggett