Dear Sandi Patty,
You probably don’t remember me, but we almost met. You sang at the Nebraska State Fair in the late 1980’s for your Make His Praise Glorious Tour. I could hardly contain my excitement when you invited KIDS to join you on stage to sing. My little sister and I jumped at the opportunity! After we finished singing with you, I lingered. I was the 10-year-old who let dozens of other kids pass in front of me so I could be up on stage just another moment with you…the woman I dreamed I could be someday.
We have quite the history, you and me. So many of my childhood memories involved me playing your music and dreaming of becoming just like you. “Love In Any Language” was my signature solo when my family did singing programs for local churches. We sang dozens of your songs through those years.
Last week you brought tears to my eyes as I watched you announce your retirement (watch the video here) from your prolific career in the Christian Music industry. A flood of memories, dreams and music filled my mind and heart. You share lessons that you learn from others on your blog, so I would like to return the favor.
Lessons I’m Learning From Sandi Patty
1. It’s OK for a woman to be strong and vulnerable at the same time.
You were my introduction to what a vocal powerhouse could be. I remember the “wow!” look on my dad’s face when we heard you nail the high notes in songs such as “We Shall Behold Him.” And yet you also caress with sweet vulnerability in songs like “Merry Christmas With Love.” I long to express myself with equally stirring power and tenderness.
2. It’s possible to connect deeply with thousands of individuals at one time.
I listened to my cassette tape of Live: We Shall Behold Him so many times that I had your entire script and performance memorized. I probably still do! You radiate warmth, humor and conviction on stage. I learned that it is a viable, honorable goal to offer my heart and connect deeply with individuals on whatever stage I stand.
3. It’s OK to sing out loud.
You demonstrate to me the beauty of singing out when there is pressure to blend in. I can’t imagine all of the beauty and glory the world would have missed, had you held your voice back. There is a difference between performing for praise and performing to make His praise glorious.
4. Every voice is unique.
I sang “Carry On” for my commercial music vocal audition at Belmont University in 1997. When I got there as a freshman I was crushed to find out that a bunch of other women were at Belmont to be the next Sandi Patty, too. I realized in the next few years that I didn’t need to have your voice to make a difference in the world. I needed to find my own.
5. In our weakness, He is strong.
My heart broke in the mid-‘90’s when your life took a drastic turn. Divorce was not something I thought about much as a middle school kid so when you went through it, it was hard for me to understand. For the next few years I didn’t hear much from you, and then my family attended the 1997 Music In The Rockies. My eyes and heart overflowed with forgiveness and love for you when you sang “You Set Me Free.” I went on to sing that very song as the closer in my own college senior recital in 2000. It took a while, but I eventually realized my own humanity. Our message of God’s grace is exponentially more powerful when we embody a picture of the gospel instead of just preach it.
I am honored to have the opportunity to bring my own husband and children to see your concert in Omaha in March. You’ve titled your final tour “Forever Grateful” (click here for tour dates and venues). It’s such an appropriate title, because that’s how we all feel about you.
Straight from the heart,
Andrea Joy Wenburg
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* All pictures used with permission.