FolkPsalm explores the Book of Psalms with Bluegrass and Americana music since 2003, led by lifelong bluegrass musician Charles Pettee, (founding member Flying Fish recording artist The Shady Grove Band). Performing throughout the Southeast, including NC’s MerleFest, 2013 & 2015 Wild Goose Festivals, as well as countless churches, FolkPsalm holds the distinction of being the only bluegrass-based ensemble ever to perform at Duke University’s Duke Chapel. A Dove on Distant Oaks: Psalms for the Journey (2014) is the fourth and latest album from the group, continuing their quest to sing, dance, pray, and learn from these ancient poems and prayers today.
The Psalms as Sung Stories
The opening words of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” implies an intense back story, (the penultimate version of which is known to Christians everywhere — see Matthew 27:46). I believe that every one of the 150 Biblical Psalms imply stories, which in fact comprise the very lives of people everywhere. Stories of tragedy and triumph, oppression and dislocation, relocation and gratitude are all supported and/or expressed in these songs and poems by our Hebrew spiritual forbears. That these are human stories, ranging “from the jaws of hell to the gates of heaven,” (C. Spurgeon), accounts for their presence in the Bible, and their widespread use by people of many different faith traditions for nearly 3,000 years. Using my voice and guitar, I’d like to explore some of these poems, invite you to sing them with me, and connect these with your own stories, freeing these ancient prayer-songs to bring us grace and hope again!