Gaither Tour Makes Sandi’s Dream Come True
While a freshman at Crawford High School in San Diego, Calif., Sandi Patti dreamed of singing like Karen Carpenter. Then, upon entering the tenth grade, Sandi not only wanted to sing like Karen Carpenter, she wanted to be Karen Carpenter. Later, says Patti, after reaching the superior maturity of a senior, she forgot her dreams to be Karen Carpenter. Now she wanted to sing like Barbra Streisand.
Sandi has, in a sense, achieved those dreams, and more. She hasn’t starred in motion pictures alongside heart-throbs like Redford, Sharif, or O’Neal, but she did marry her college sweetheart and now manager, John Helvering. She hasn’t toured the world singing pop songs with her only brother, but she has traveled with her mom, dad and two brothers sharing the Gospel in song as the Ron Patty Family. Not only does she share these pseudo-similarities with Streisand and Carpenter, but she learned to sing like them too.
During the recent Bill Gaither Trio tour, Sandi stunned the audiences with her vocal finesse. Although she shared only a couple of songs during the concerts, audiences from East to West fell immediately in love with the cute brunette in the flowing chiffon whose soprano highs soared above the usual listening range of the crowd.
For the last three years, Sandi has toured with the Gaithers as part of their back-up vocal band. With her first Impact album, Love Overflowing, gaining national airplay, it was time for Sandi to begin showcasing her talents right up front with the best of them.
Growing up in the Church of God where her father was the minister of music, Sandi was encouraged to sing in choirs and play piano – which she often found trying and laborious but now finds to be among life’s greatest blessings.
“My mom would always make me take piano lessons, and of course I hated piano lessons,” Sandi recalls. “I didn’t like to practice, I didn’t like anything. But, about a year ago, I was doing a telethon at a Christian television station and I was supposed to sing with one of my back-up tracks. I started singing, but they had the track in the wrong place – it was at the very end instead of the very beginning….It was live TV. There was really nothing you could do. Luckily I was seated at the piano for some kind of effect so I just turned around and started playing the piano and singing the same song. After the telethon was over, I got on the phone and said, ‘Mother, I want to thank you for all the years you made me take piano lessons because tonight they paid off.’”
Raised in a loving and committed Christian home, Sandi’s parents, especially her father, were a great influence on her. Through his positive reinforcement, she learned that nothing was ever as bad as it seemed and that she should take pride in even the little things. He often encouraged her to learn to sing all vocal parts, not just the easy soprano pieces.
Love for God, for her parents and for music eventually led Sandi to complete her education at her parents’ alma mater, Anderson College, a small Christian college sponsored by her church.
Just as her mother had met her father, Sandi met her husband John at Anderson. He was a business major but shared with her a great love of music. John sang alongside her in the college choir and later worked the sound and lights for a traveling group sponsored by Anderson.
“Our careers and what we had planned in life go beautifully hand-in-hand,” says Sandi. “He does all of the management for me and all the booking. We work really well together.”
During college Sandi took private voice lessons. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in music, specializing in voice. She is well respected in the music industry and is considered by many to possess one of the most flexible, yet consistent vocal ranges in gospel music.
The Ron Patty Family recorded three albums during their traveling together. Later, Sandi cut a custom LP of her own called Sandi’s Song. Zondervan heard the record and quickly signed her to its Singspiration label. With the joining of Zondervan and Benson, Sandi ended up on Benson’s Impact label to record Love Overflowing.
Sandi sees her ministry as that of encouragement and edification in the body. She realizes that most people who come to hear her are church people, college age and up. She does not try to evangelize, nor to over-spiritualize. She wants to share Jesus in the most loving fashion she knows – she sings.
“I feel that music is the best way to communicate what one is feeling inside…” says Sandi. “I try to bring a real positiveness to my messages and the songs that I sing so that maybe the people can leave the concert feeling very uplifted and positive about the Christian way of life, and know that Jesus loves them.”