Iconic Christian rock band to play in Kentucky for 50th-anniversary tour

Iconic Christian rock band to play in Kentucky for 50th-anniversary tour
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 3:59 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - They are one of the most popular Christian music groups of all time.

Petra began in the early 1970s but rose to play arenas and major festivals in the 1980s and 1990s. They are celebrating their 50th anniversary and will be in concert Saturday night, September 30, in Louisville.

Petra’s John Schlitt and Bob Hartman have been together since the mid-1980s. They formed the nucleus of a band that started in 1972.

“The music Bob wrote…I believe is timeless,” Schlitt said.

Petra plays a hard rock blend of music that was born out of a mission of ministry.

“I think that common goal and purpose has joined us together in such a way we feel what we are doing is making a difference in people’s lives,” said Bob Hartman, Petra’s lone original member and guitarist. He’s also been the group’s principal songwriter.

They haven’t recorded new music in almost 20 years but have played off and on again since then, and last year played some 50th-anniversary dates that expanded into this year.

“We are seeing people drive quite a distance sometimes to come and hear us,” said Hartman.

Petra was a frequent performer at the Ichthus Festival in Wilmore. Both Schlitt and Hartman have a lot of memories from that festival, and many deal with the weather.

“You mentioned Ichthus. That was ‘mud fest.’ I know that isn’t a positive thing,” Schlitt laughed.

“We played. And when we played, if I remember, it wasn’t raining. But there was a lot of mud,” said Hartman of the 1983 date. He also said Petra was Ichthus’ first “hard rock” band to play at the festival, and that organizers took a chance on them in booking them.

Petra played the Wilmore festival at least four times through three different decades, along with the state fair and at other churches and events. On Saturday, September 30, their 50th anniversary show will be at St. Matthews Baptist Church in Louisville.

“A lot of friends. That’s how we see it. Anybody who is at our show is a friend who wants to bring back memories, and we want to share with them and they share with us,” said Schlitt.

“They remember those days and how they felt when they heard the music,” added Hartman.

They say music can be very powerful, and they’ve seen its effect for five decades and hope to be performing for many more years. You can find more information about Petra and their current tour at petrareunion.com.