Sandi Patty

Known as "the Voice," Sandi Patty is one of the biggest stars in CCM and over a 15-year period (starting in the early '80s) has earned three platinum albums, five gold albums, 33 Dove Awards, and five Grammys. Her debut album sold 11 million copies. Known for her versatility, Patty draws from pop to ballads to modernized gospel standards. As a singer, she is noted for her powerful, flexible voice and her ability to effortlessly climb to a high C. Patty has appeared on numerous television and awards shows, and has even performed for presidents.

Born in Oklahoma City, she made her performing debut singing "Jesus Loves Me" at church when she was only two. A few years later, she and her two young brothers billed themselves as the Ron Patty Family and began singing gospel at small churches across the country. She later studied voice at San Diego State University and then majored in music at Anderson College in Indiana, earning extra cash at the latter singing commercial jingles. Before graduating from Anderson, Patty married John Helvering, who had a major influence on her career and helped her record her debut self-produced album, For My Friends. A printer's mistake changed her last name from Patty to Patti, and the name stuck until the mid-'90s, when her releases began appearing under the "Sandi Patty" moniker.

In 1979, she signed to an independent label and that year released Sandi's Song. She then began a series of musical ministry tours and realized she had found her calling. She won her first two Dove Awards in 1982 for Lift Up the Lord, and it was straight up from there. She launched her first major U.S. tour in 1984 to promote her Songs from the Heart album. In 1988, she sang for a CBS special We the People, at that year's Republican National Convention. She also managed to find time to bear four children.

At the height of her career, Patty was an inspiration and role model of a good Christian wife for millions. But by June 1992, a few cracks had begun to appear. That year she filed for divorce without stating any clear reason why. By 1995, she admitted to having had two affairs while married to Helvering, one briefly at the beginning of her marriage, and a more serious one later on. Her problems generated much controversy in the CCM business, and many radio stations pulled her material.

Despite these setbacks, Patty continued her career and expanded her musical repertoire, winning new fans and winning back the old. She remarried and put out several new recordings, including Christmas albums like O Holy Night and Celebrate Christmas; An American Songbook, Artist of My Soul; the Dove Award-winning Spanish-language album Libertad Me Das; Together with Kathy Troccoli; These Days, Songs for the Journey, The Edge of the Divine, Broadway Stories -- her first secular outing -- and Forever Grateful. She has continued her extensive touring schedule, with performances everywhere, from small churches to large venues backed by renowned orchestras. ~ Sandra Brennan

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