I think it is only appropriate we sign off from this interview with the same generous fashion. So Sandi, from all of us, to you, “You are so very loved, today.”
CCM Magazine: Sandi, we are so excited to have you here. Looking back at some of your older CCM covers, I’m sure you would be interested in the…hair?
Sandi Patty: It’s never been a haircut. It’s a statement. So whatever is going on in my life, you can look at the hair and go, “Oh, okay. I see.” [Laughs]
CCM: The question that is resonating in everyone’s mind, “What is gospel music going to be like without Sandi Patty?” Because more than a voice, we’ve fallen in love with who you are. Why retire? And, why now?
SP: I’m a very introverted person, believe it or not, so I’ve really thought it through. Don [Sandi’s husband] and I have raised eight kids, and they’re all grown. So that basically makes us empty nesters. We have one grandson, and two grandkids on the way. So that’s a new season for us.
CCM: A good season?
SP: A very good season. I know some people want to hear me say, “Oh, it’s so hard being an empty nester.” It’s awesome. [Laughs]
Another reason [to retire], according to the Metropolitan Opera, a woman’s vocal prime is between the ages of 45 and 60 years old. I’m definitely closer to one end than the other. I love music so much that I want to be mindful of the art form. I don’t want to be like one of those athletes and you think, They should have retired. Had Peyton Manning not retired this year, he and I were going to have to have a conversation. [Laughs]
The interesting thing, Andrew, thirty years ago there were a lot of people listening to what I had to say, but I didn’t feel like I had a lot to say. Fast-forward to now, there are less people listening, but I feel like I finally found my voice and have more to say. So just because the singing is going to be set aside, I will always have something to say.
CCM: You currently have quite a bit to say in the form of your final concerts on the Forever Grateful Tour. What inspired the tour?
SP: Honestly, it’s for the fans. I don’t like the word “fans” or “friends,” so we kind of say “frans.” They are who I have worked for. They are the ones who have come alongside and held us up, and walked us through tough times, and spoken a word of encouragement here or there.
At the end of the Last Supper, Jesus washed the disciples feet, taught them what he had just done and then taught them to go and do it. I love the scripture when it says, “And then he loved them well to the end.” That is the lens through which, for me, I see this tour. To love the people well who have loved us all these years.
CCM: You talk about working for your “frans.” Sometimes in the context of Christian music, there is confusion about who bought that ticket. I don’t remember God paying for those tickets. Because you are a Christian musician, do you ever sense confusion from audiences about who you work for?
SP: Someone came up [after a concert] and said, “Thank you so much for singing, but I wish you would sing it more for God.”
Before I found my voice, I would have let that comment go. But I gently tugged her back to me and said, “You need to know that everything I do is for God. I live for Him. I also want to be mindful of the people who are in the same space as we are. And if I can invite you to come alongside and turn your worship to God, then that is what I want to do. So don’t misunderstand my eye contact with you as not turning it to God. It’s trying to be a leader in a worship setting so in that experience, all of us can turn our hearts and minds to God.”
CCM: I hear one new venture you are looking forward to expanding in retirement is teaching, which was really your first love and your first career goal. Right?
SP: It really was. I was one of those kids who didn’t play with dolls or play dress up. I played school. My parents got me a chalkboard and we put it on the inside of my door. I got empty Kleenex boxes and turned them upside down, and those were my rows of desks. So I got to choose anyone to be in my “class.”
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