A Farewell Song
Sandi Patty’s high-profile gospel music career has spanned almost 35 years, during which she’s won five Grammy’s and over 40 Dove Awards for Christian music. Now, the Oklahoma-native has embarked on a 90-city farewell concert tour: Forever Grateful.
“I’m not so much saying goodbye, as I am saying thank you,” Patty said. “Thank you to the fans and the many people who’ve been alongside me during this journey.”
Her powerful voice first captured the nation’s attention when she sang the national anthem at the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. At that point, she’d already worked with Bill Gaither and headlined her own tour. Her vocal strength, emotion and ability to hit incredibly high notes resonated with the public and brought them to tears.
She sprinkled a little Broadway into her career, but her mainstay was Christian music. Not only did her concerts sell out at hundreds of large arenas each year, she appeared on The Tonight Show and sang at Carnegie Hall, the White House and the Indianapolis 500.
Patty, 59, has mulled over the idea of a farewell concert for some time, with the intention of ending her touring career while her powerhouse voice is still optimum.
“It’s not like I can give 30-days notice,” Patty said with a laugh. “I don’t know how my voice will sound a few years from now. According to the Metropolitan Opera, a woman’s vocal prime is between the ages of 45-65 years, and I’m getting closer to that far end. I want to respect the art form and not be one of those performers who people think, ‘She should have retired a long time ago.’”
Although Patty is ending her national touring career, she will continue sharing her spiritual journey with fans. In the fall, she will be teaching a worship ministry program at Mid-American Christian University, and she anticipates continuing her religious writing career. Patty is the author of seven inspirational books that explore her reliance upon God during the personal joys and sorrows of her life.
As a celebrity, her successes and failures are “right out there for the whole world to see.” About half way through her career, she quit pretending that everything was perfect and started being truthful about her struggles.
“I honestly try to be the same person in traffic as I am on stage—except I have a mic in my hand and more makeup on.” Patty laughs. “I’ve reached the part of my life’s journey where I’m at peace with who I am.”
Patty is also moving into a new season of her life where she’s ready to enjoy her growing number of grandchildren. Patty and her husband of 21 years, Don Peslis, are empty-nesters after raising eight kids together. Although Patty was born in Oklahoma, she spent most of her life in Indiana, but returned to her birth state nine years ago for Don’s career.
A gifted vocalist himself, Don Peslis, now serves as a worship minister at Crossings Community Church, which was the site of her mid-concert performance in Oklahoma City on May 1st, 2016. She greatly anticipated the concert at her home church but admitted that singing to familiar faces also made her more nervous than usual.
“Music has been the medium that has helped me express what I held inside. I still plan to share my heart—just maybe not as much with music,” Patty said. “I’m going to miss the travel and the interactions with people during touring, but I’m looking forward to not having to be constantly diligent about my voice. If I’m at a ballgame or at a movie, I’ll be able to laugh and cheer!”
But first, Patty has to make it to that final Forever Grateful concert. She’s skeptical about how well she’ll manage to keep her emotions in check for that one.
“It’s funny, for that very first concert of the farewell tour, I was a mess. It was like reading a retirement speech for the first time,” Patty said. “So many people have stood by us and prayed for us and encouraged us, so I want to say thank you. This tour comes with a lot of gratitude, a lot of thankfulness, and a lot of happy tears.”
Visit sandipatty.com for her tour schedule and further information.