Bedtime Songs for Children
Troy Petit was born in Preston, Oklahoma June 21, 1941. Preston was a small rural village 40 miles South of Tulsa and had one time been connected to the oil industry in Okmulgee, Oklahoma seven miles away. In the 1940's, the area around Preston consisted of small farms owned mostly by whites and farmed mostly by black sharecroppers. The main entertainment in the area was listening to the radio at night after long, hard days of work in the fields. The Grand Old Opry, coming across the airways from Nashville, Tennessee, was a favorite of blacks and whites who just 'soaked up' the music, comedy, and fun of Red Foley, Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones, and many other Opry stars. When Troy was five years old, the family moved to Pumpkin Center, Oklahoma, a little farming settlement Southeast of Okmulgee. It was even quainter than Preston! Morris, Oklahoma was the nearest 'big town' although it was just a 'little bump in the road' place. When the family first moved to Pumpkin Center, they lived in a little farmhouse. The most sacred piece of furniture in that little farmhouse was a windmill-powered radio with a battery that was larger than the radio. Since windmill power was limited, the listening times had to be carefully rationed each day. The family made sure that they had enough power to listen to the Country Music favorites, but at Pumpkin Center they accidentally stumbled upon another kind of music - blues and Jazz via Gallatin, Tennessee radio waves. It was then that Troy got his first taste for all kinds of music. When he was about seven years old, the family moved back to Preston where Troy's musical tastes really expanded. The Preston home was right between Douglas Elementary School and Jerusalem Baptist Church. Troy says about those days, 'Most of my values, work ethic, etc. Were learned from those two institutions, after the sound spiritual and moral principles had been planted by my parents, of course. The Petit children couldn't get away with anything. If we did anything wrong, someone from one of those two buildings would tell our parents and we were sure to get a whipping!' One evening, a chance encounter happened that would change Troy's musical interest from listening to music to singing. Troy states, 'One day some of my friends and I were playing basketball on the elementary school playground and I heard this beautiful melodic singing coming from Jerusalem Baptist Church. I held the ball and listened. I was just mesmerized. I threw the ball aside, went in and sat down in the back of the church and became completely engrossed in this African-American quartet which had come from the surrounding Okmulgee County area. That night I began trying to sound like that quartet of men and I have been singing ever since!' Singing became an integral part of Troy's life. He went on to sing solo performances at Wheatley High School in Beggs, Oklahoma. His singing would then be placed on hold for four years when he received and fulfilled a four-year scholarship to play football at Langston University in Langston Oklahoma. Unfortunately, football practice and chorus practice were held at the same time. Today he sings tenor in the North Peoria Church of Christ Choir and occasionally is lead vocalist for this acappella group. Because of boredom and sadness after a painful divorce, Troy decided to look for a hobby to help him cope. This resulted in a whimsical purchase that, little did he know, would have a major impact on his life. Troy speaks about this period of his life. 'I bought a guitar to take my mind off the pain I was experiencing at the time, and took five private guitar lessons where I learned basic chord structure. After learning chord structure, I found it very easy to arrange chords, and lyrics just began popping into my head. At that time, I did not realize that this was a gift from God. I thought anybody who had taken guitar lessons could do that. The gratification I received from songwriting was fantastic! I knew this was something I would incorporate into my life.' Troy's professional life began to play an increased role in his music. He states, ' At this stage of my life, I was a psychology teacher and counselor at Northeastern Oklahoma State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma; seven years later I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where I did psychological counseling for the University of Tulsa. After dealing with student's problems each day, I found it very relaxing to get out my guitar and to sing, play, and compose songs. I began to catalogue my songs and became what I called a 'closet songwriter.' Troy retired from counseling at the University of Tulsa after twenty years of service, but just one year later he felt the need to go back to the classroom. Troy returned to counseling students at Booker T. Washington High School and Monroe Middle School in Tulsa. His need for relaxation after dealing with students' problems in the day returned and once again, he increased his songwriting. When asked about the kind of music he wrote Troy explains, 'I considered myself an eclectic songwriter. I wrote country songs, ballads, gospel, rhythm and blues, pop, and even a rap song. But I couldn't' get comfortable with any style until the eventful day while waiting at the tennis courts for my match to start, I met, and later married in 1993, my lovely wife, Amy. (Note: Troy and Amy are both competitive tennis players with U.S.T.A. ratings as high as 5.0 and 4.0 respectively) Seven years later, our son Terryk (our Y2K baby!) was born. After participating in his birth, a first for me, and watching him grow, I was completely fascinated and overwhelmed by this wonderful experience. So I did what any 'red-blooded' songwriter would do. I started writing songs about it...children's bedtime songs. The pleasure I got from this was unimaginable and it fueled me with a desire to share these wonderful feelings of comfort, joy, peace and love with others. I knew I had found a genre that would inspire and capture my songwriting focus.' Troy retired from education permanently in June 2003, and currently is working on three children's projects to be presented in 2004. *For more information regarding the childhood of Troy James Petit, read the autobiography of his oldest sister, Mrs.EddieFaye Gates, 'Miz Lucy's Cookies: And Other Links in My Black Family Support System,' Coman & Associates, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1996. Also, visit Mrs. Gates' website: www-tulsa-riot.com.