Today, there is an entire community of musicians and friends in Winston-Salem who are grieving and struggling to comprehend the loss of one of our own, Faye Hunter. She died Saturday.
That community extends internationally to all who had seen and heard her as Let's Active's able bassist throughout the 1980s. Those of us who grew up with Faye also knew her as a sweet, droll and artistic friend who unintentionally served as something of a den mother and big sister to many of the younger musicians in town, myself included. At 13, I was still awestruck in the presence of talented players like Mitch Easter and the late Sam Moss. But Faye was both approachable and encouraging, and she always had time to talk to me. In so many ways, it was Faye who helped broker my induction into the demimonde of 'combo corner,' a place I knew I belonged.
From the Winston-Salem high school days with Rittenhouse Square in the early ’70s through the H-Bombs at the other end of the decade in Chapel Hill, I spent a lot of time with Faye. We watched SNL when Elvis Costello changed songs from "Less Than Zero" to the supercharged "Radio, Radio." We played pick-up games of badminton in that tiny circular green space off Franklin Street.
Eventually, she bought a bass and began performing with Mitch in the nascent Let's Active. In February 1985, The dB's, Let's Active and Chris Stamey returned to Winston-Salem and shared the stage at Reynolds Auditorium, which adjoined the high school we all attended the decade before. The photo of the RJR alumni in front of the school sign will always make me smile.
As the years passed, we saw less of each other. I knew she had moved back to Winston to take care of her elderly parents and wasn't really playing music. Fortunately, through the modern miracle that is Facebook, we kept up better. Faye would come to shows, and we visited a little but never as much I would have preferred.
I saw Faye at a recording session at the Fidelitorium in Kernersville this past February. She sang on a friend's song and was hanging out. We hugged, chatted, listened and took a few photos to commemorate the day. I wish it hadn't been such a quick visit; it never occurred to me that it would be the last time I would see her. Her home life had become untenable, and I corresponded with her, trying to help her find a job in Durham. I'm sure many of her friends did the same sort of thing. But she felt responsible for her mother's care and was unable to make that kind of move.
It is hard to imagine a world without Faye Hunter. We all wish we could have done more to help her, but we couldn't. We all wish we had more time with her, but the lovely memories of the time we did have will have to suffice in the midst of our overwhelming sadness.
Peter Holsapple is a member of the dB's.