Even gospel music super stars need their daily coffee fix as a recent phone conversation with Sandi Patty proved.
At one point there were all of these heavy wind sounds and voices coming from a drive-in speaker with Patty telling the drive-up voice box, “This is Sandi, picking up a mobile order. And I did have two of them.”
Then to me she said, “I had to run by Starbucks to get my coffee!”
The 2004 inductee into the Gospel Music Association’s Hall of Fame and 2013 inductee into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in her native state doesn’t need very much coffee to get her charged up these days.
After all, she has sung for five U.S. presidents and has been called the most-awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music. Her career accomplishments include more than 12 million albums sold and racking up five Grammy Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, three platinum records, five gold records and more than 40 Dove Awards.
Since Feb. 11 she has been on her Forever Grateful – The Farewell Tour that should reach more than 100 cities around the globe. One of the stops will be at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 17, at Millbrook Baptist Church in Aiken, where she has performed before.
Doors open at 6 p.m. The concert also featuring the group Veritas begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45, premium; $25, general admission; and $18.50 for groups of 10 or more and also for seniors 60 and older. Call the church at (803) 648-4167.
Over the years, Patty has made many stops at area churches including First Baptist of Augusta and First Baptist of North Augusta.
When I mentioned that I am sure her many local fans will be happy to have her head this way once again, Patty replied, “I’m very glad as well.
“It’s an interesting thing to say that this is my final tour, because it’s not like in a work place where you give just 30 days’ notice (before quitting).
“This is a little bit of a longer process,” she added. “We’re adding a lot more stops in the fall and in the spring of 2017. My goal is that it will be done in 2017. There are a lot of places that we just don’t want to say goodbye, but want to say thank you to so many people.”
Patty is at a very happy stage of her life; living since January 2009 back in Oklahoma City where she was born on July 12, 1956, as Sandra Faye Patty.
Her father, Ron Patty, preached at a local church where her mother, Carolyn, played the piano.
The evangelistic family moved from Oklahoma when Patty was 3 years old to living in Phoenix and San Diego, Calif.
She and her two brothers started singing publicly as part of The Ron Patty Family Singers.
When summers came around, the family would take trips back to Oklahoma to visit relatives.
“My mother was born in Clinton, and my dad was born in Tulsa. So Oklahoma runs thick in our blood,” she said. “I remember those summers traveling from California to Oklahoma. Absolutely. I remember my sweet, sweet grandma Patty who always was just available whether it was giving me a back scratch or just being together on a front porch swing. I have so many wonderful memories of spending a couple of weeks with her every summer.”
Patty attended Anderson University in Indiana where she studied both voice and conducting. Area residents Bill and Gloria Gaither, who were friends of Patty’s parents, got Patty to give their two children piano lessons.
That eventually led to Patty becoming a backup vocalist with the Gaither Vocal Band and to her releasing her debut gospel album, For My Friends, in 1978. Many other studio albums would follow.
After several years of living in Indiana, Patty and her family moved to Oklahoma City in 2009 after her husband, Don Peslis, took a job with SandRidge Energy as the company’s director of community outreach.
Patty loves her life in Oklahoma City where she has been teaching an online course in Christian worship arts and leadership for Mid-America Christian University.
“I’ve always wanted to teach so that’s very special to me,” she said.
Patty said she is not completely stopping singing publicly but is stopping extensive tours.
She intends for certain to continue singing in her church, Crossings Community Church of God, in Oklahoma City. Her husband is on the church staff.
And she has even authored a cookbook titled Around The Table With Sandi Patty: Faith, Family and Food.
“Well, you need to hook up with Trisha Yearwood (Trisha’s Southern Kitchen) and Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) who do their cooking shows from Oklahoma on the Food Network, and get on their shows,” I joked.
Patty laughed and said, “Wasn’t Trisha just unbelievable the other night in The Passion (Easter TV musical)? She was just fabulous; just really amazing.”
With her Forever Grateful Farewell Tour in progress and other project on her plate of life, I asked her how she feels about turning 60 on July 12.
“You know what?” she replied. “I am not dreading it one bit. Not at all. I’m looking very forward to it.
“Oh, listen, this (final tour) is not being done with living. It’s about being responsible for the art form and not being one of those athletes that you think should have retired a long time ago. And it’s to give myself more to my grandkids. We have one now and two on the way.
“This tour is my opportunity to tell the people ‘Thank you’ who have walked with me the last 30 years or so, and that’s why we’re calling the tour ‘Forever Grateful.’ It’s not so much about saying goodbye as it is saying ‘Thank you.’”
FAREWELLS: The death of country music superstar Merle Haggard on April 6 on his 79th birthday at his home in Palo Cedro, Calif., brought back a lot of great memories for fans who saw him in Augusta.
Among those times were Feb. 9, 1971, with his then-wife Bonnie Owens, Faron Young and Tompall & The Glaser Brothers; Jan. 2, 1973, with Bonnie Owens, Donna Fargo, The Osborne Brothers and Nat Stuckey; Oct. 24, 1974; May 1983, with his then-wife Leona Williams; and May 9, 1988, with Randy Travis and K.T. Oslin; Feb. 2, 1990, with Conway Twitty and George Jones and May 7, 2000, with Gary Allan, Lace and Shiloh.
His death leaves us with just a few kings of classic country music; having previously lost George Jones, Conway Twitty, Little Jimmy Dickens, Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Carl Smith, Marty Robbins, Bill Monroe, Webb Pierce, Ernest Tubb, etc.
Back in 1974, I asked Haggard what did he recommend for kids today growing up without a father? His father died when he was nine.
“It’s hard to recommend a replacement for a father,” he replied. “I guess an older brother may be the closest thing, but it depends on the individual. Sometimes you just have to make it without one. I’m sort of running into that same problem now with my own children. … With my work I have to be gone a lot on the road. Sure I have my management and other business people back home who can check on my kids, but it still doesn’t take the place of a dad.”
• Chipa Lone Eagle Wolfe, 62, of Jasper, Ga., died April 10. For the past four years, Wolfe organized and hosted the annual Oka’Chaffa Indian Festival & Pow Wow in the fall, which was attended by more than 7,000 people each year.
Wolfe co-founded the festival in 2012 with naturalist Okefenokee Joe (also known as hit country songwriter and recording artist Dick Flood) and former Augusta Mayor Bob Young.
At this stage, the future of the festival remains in limbo since Wolfe was the spark who made it happen.