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Sandi Patty Interview: Gospel Music Icon Joins Jason Crabb for Christmas Tour

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Sandi Patty

Multiple Dove Award/Grammy Award winner Sandi Patty has sold more than eleven million records, garnering her three platinum and five gold recordings. As the most-awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music history, her voice is still the gold standard by which all who follow are measured. As a matter of fact, Patty has been dubbed “The Voice” by critics because of her wide range and flexibility.

The Oklahoma native was born into a family of musicians, and she and her brothers joined their parents in a performing group known as “The Ron Patty Family,” and sang at churches across the nation. She began singing backup for southern gospel singer/songwriter Bill Gaither in 1982 and headlined her first national tour in 1984.

“You know, I guess I think of myself as more of an inspirational singer, so that even if I do other types of music that isn’t traditional church music, I still feel that there’s still a great deal of inspiration. Hopefully, that makes sense. My roots are church. That’s just where I grew up, so I feel really the most comfortable with inspirational music no matter where you find it.”

At the peak of Patty’s career, her concerts were so heavily attended that she performed in often sold-out mainstream arenas and concert halls. In October of 2011, at the age of 55, she released Broadway Stories, her first non-religious album. Patty currently lives in Oklahoma City, and she and her husband Don Peslis have a blended family consisting of eight children.

Teaming up with Calvary Baptist Church and in partnership with World Vision, Patty and Christian singer and musician Jason Crabb will bring their holiday tour, “A Christmas Celebration,” to New York City for a special benefit performance on November 24. All proceeds will be given to World Vision for their relief efforts in the New York and New Jersey area to aid those still in need from the devastating results of Hurricane Sandy.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Sandi, how did you and Jason get together for a Christmas tour?

Sandi Patty: I have loved The Crabb Family, Jason’s family, ever since I heard them sing on the Gaither Homecoming stuff. Jason has that something special, so it has been fun to watch him grow into being his own artist. We both love family. We both have big families and just have a lot in common. It seemed like a fun thing to do.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): The two of you will be in New York on November 24, and the proceeds will benefit the hurricane victims.

Sandi Patty: That’s correct.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Will there be all Christmas songs?

Sandi Patty: It’ll mostly be Christmas, but we’ll mix in a few gospel songs. I know that Jason has a song called, “Sometimes I Cry,” right now. It’s one of the most requested songs on Christian radio. He’ll have to do that one because we all want to hear it. We’ll mix up a little Christmas and a little bit of some songs that people have enjoyed hearing over the years.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you and Jason sing duets?

Sandi Patty: Yeah, we will. We’re learning some right now, so that will be nice.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): My favorite Christmas song is “O Holy Night.” How many octaves are in that song?

Sandi Patty: (laughs) That’s a good question. I’ll have to pay attention the next time I sing the song.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What is your range?

Sandi Patty: My mom says it’s about four octaves.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is that a High E that you reach in “O Holy Night?”

Sandi Patty: The last note, I think, is either a C or a D-flat. The highest note I ever sang was in my senior recital, and that was a High F. I haven’t ever attempted that since (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Wow. Do you have a favorite gospel song?

Sandi Patty: “How Great Thou Art” is one of those that continue to be really special in my heart.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you think that it’s easier now for a Christian artist to cross over to mainstream music than it was thirty years ago?

Sandi Patty: You know, I guess I think of myself as more of an inspirational singer, so that even if I do other types of music that isn’t traditional church music, I still feel that there’s still a great deal of inspiration. Hopefully, that makes sense. My roots are church. That’s just where I grew up, so I feel really the most comfortable with inspirational music no matter where you find it.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You released Broadway Stories last year, which was your first non-gospel album.

Sandi Patty: I really fell in love with music because of Broadway music. My parents let me get a whole bunch of those cast recordings, and I just fell in love with music. I was a really shy kid, and I would often let music tell my story or let music say what was going on in my heart. I love good music and Broadway has some great music. I just really began to fall in love with music because of Broadway cast recordings.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You have said that Barbra Streisand was your first voice teacher. Is that because she inspired you?

Sandi Patty: Very much. It’s funny to have a voice teacher you’ve never met, but I would just listen to her so much. I would really continue to be inspired by all that she did, how she would phrase and interpret a song. She’s just a great storyteller through music, and I love storytellers who know how to pick good stories and be able to tell them.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Your father was a minister of music and the family performed in a musical group. Were you the only girl?

Sandi Patty: I’m the only girl and have two younger brothers. We just always enjoyed music. When I was in high school, my brothers were in junior high and elementary school, we did some traveling together as a family. Looking back on it especially, it was really a very sweet time.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That reminds me of the von Trapp family portrayed in The Sound of Music.

Sandi Patty: Yeah, exactly.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was your dad strict?

Sandi Patty: No. He was very loving. How I would see my mom and dad at church is how they would be at home. I know that many minister’s kids can’t necessarily say that about their parents, so I feel very grateful for the fact that my parents were very real. Because of music, my parents wanted to us experience a wide variety of music. My mother was a pianist, and my dad was a great musician as well, so we listened to everything from the Beatles to Bach.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you kept in contact with Bill Gaither over the years?

Sandi Patty: Yes. I just spoke to him on the phone not too long ago. We try to keep tabs on each other. He and Gloria are just the real deal. I just love them very much. I’m so grateful for their input in my life.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you watch American Idol and Voice?

Sandi Patty: I do. I think those contestants are very brave (laughs). I really do. I love that there’s an opportunity for people to see if there’s a place for them in the music business. That’s awesome. I’d love to be a judge on one of those shows someday. I’d love to.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you watch Glee?

Sandi Patty: Yes. When my kids were younger, they did the show choir thing. That is just so much fun for us to watch Glee and remember those show choir days.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you ever nervous singing in public?

Sandi Patty: Always. My mom always told me when you stop being nervous, you stop caring about what you do. I’m just learning to embrace being a little nervous from time to time when I sing, and that’s okay.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you and your family have the traditional Thanksgiving with turkey and all the trimmings?

Sandi Patty: We sure do. My parents and all of our kids will go to Indiana because that’s more of a central location for everybody. Usually my mom does the turkey. But now, one of our kids, Jen, likes to cook and many times she’ll do the turkey. We’ll each bring something. My brother will bring a ham. I usually do a cornbread casserole that is so good. It’s a big family. Everybody brings one thing, and you’ve got a ton of stuff.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Same for Christmas?

Sandi Patty: That’s about the same for Christmas. We have three kids and my husband that work in the church, so Christmas is a little bit different because they’re involved in the church services. Sometimes we’ll have Christmas not necessarily on Christmas.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Patti, do you have a favorite Bible verse that you live by?

Sandi Patty: I love Psalm 37:4 – “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I just really love what that says because I think “delight” means diligently everything laid in God’s hands today.

© 2012 Smashing Interviews Magazine. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the express written consent of the publisher.

 

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