In 2007, 10-year-old Faith Bardill stood in front of her fifth-grade class at Grace Christian School, paper in hand.
As she read the adoption decree aloud, Faith realized her life was forever changed.
For six years, Chuck and Wanda Bardill of Sanford had cared for their biological granddaughter after the girl’s parents were unable or unwilling to care for her. The paper in her palms meant Bardill’s dream of having a mom and dad of her own had come true.
“I really think I have the most supportive parents ever,” the 21-year-old singer/songwriter said Wednesday over lunch at the Fairview Dairy Bar. “They go above and beyond, more than I ever expected anybody to. They’re superheroes.”
She said they’re particularly supportive of her music career, which hit a milestone in 2016 when she was named Country Female Artist of the Year at the Carolina Music Awards — an award she is up for again this year.
Though Faith started taking professional voice lessons at 14 and learned the guitar at 15, Wanda said her daughter has been belting out songs since the first day they lived together.
“She came in the door singing and loving music right off the bat,” Wanda said. “When she was younger, she sang at school and church. At her kindergarten graduation, she sang a solo. She has just always loved it.”
Faith joined Sanford’s theater troupe Temple Teens at the Temple Theatre at age 14, and shortly afterward became a member of Brick City South, a band which also included NBC’s “The Voice” finalist Britton Buchanan. Faith said that while she’s played everything from Motown to classic rock, country music is where her heart is.
And through her music, she said, she’s found a deeper meaning. It allows her to connect with adopted children like herself.
“I had a couple kids say, ‘Hey, I’m adopted too.’” Faith said. “…I want to sing and hopefully inspire some kids who’ve been through the same thing that I’ve been through and maybe, just maybe they’ll know that they’re not alone in that.”
In 2017, Faith’s self-produced EP, “When the Dust Settles” is nearly sold out, and in the coming weeks she will begin recording another album in the basement of her family home.
Chuck is putting the finishing touches on the recording studio and also serves as Faith’s soundman, while Wanda sells merchandise at her shows.
They also serve as music critics too, Faith said. The couple will tell her if something doesn’t sound good or if lyrics need work.
“If I’m stuck on something, I’ll go in (Wanda’s) office,” Faith said. “I’m like, ‘Mom, what do I do?’ She’ll just say, ‘Alright, here’s like 20 different words that you can use.’ I was like, ‘Wow, who needs Google when you have Wanda?’”
On stage, Faith is surrounded by family as well, though not by blood. She said she has a close relationship with each of her bandmates, saying they’re like brothers to her. These “brothers” are Josh Oldham, Scott McBryde and Garrett Morrison.
Faith admits that a music career isn’t all glamorous, and that she’s doubted herself at times. But, she said, when those doubts creep in, its her relationships with her family and her faith that keeps her going.
“There’s times where I’ve questioned, ‘OK can I really do this or not?’” she said. “And then I just get that reassurance like, ‘Yeah you can do it. Suck it up. You can do it.’ But it does take a toll sometimes.”
In recent years, Faith has branched out from performing in Sanford, landing gigs in Virginia, and in Myrtle Beach at The Bowery, a storied venue where country legend Alabama was a house band.
But she always find the time to perform back home.
“We get the same people that come to the (local) shows,” Faith said. “They’ll talk to me about their families and I’ll tell them about mine. I just like being able to see familiar faces and them all be excited to be there. It’s a big party when you’re doing it in your hometown.”
Faith performed Thursday at Depot Park for Function in the Junction. She next appears in Sanford at 8 p.m. Saturday at Smoke and Barrel.
Reach Staff Writer Noah Grant at 919-718-1229 and on Twitter at @NoahGrantHerald.