FAYE BALLARD first became interested in ragtime music when she heard Les Cripe (piano player for the Harry James band) play at a Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Decatur, Illinois. Les was kind enough to take her under his wing and taught her how to play "Maple Leaf Rag" and showed her a few of his other numerous piano tricks.
Faye first competed in the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest, at age 12, in their very second contest in 1976, where she had the honor to compete against the contest's first champion, Joybelle Squibb. While Faye came in second to Joybelle, she loved the contest and competition and kept coming back. There was no Junior Division in the contest at the time, so Faye got to compete against other great champions like Dorothy Herrold and took advantage of the learning opportunity to perfect her craft.
Faye has been a five-time finalist in the competition and finished as high as 2nd place in 2007. Faye elected to retire from the competition part of the contest after the 2010 contest in order to take over as the contest coordinator starting in 2011.
When not playing her piano, Faye enjoys her full-time job as an Office Support Specialist for the University of Illinois College of Nursing and spending time with her cat, Cora. She also enjoys performing at festivals, such as the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri and doing performances at various functions at the University of Illinois and for Champaign, Illinois's Mayor, Jerry Schweigheart.