Sandi Patty with Jason Crabb
7 p.m. Friday at Longview Heights Baptist Church, 4501 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, Miss.
Tickets: $22 in advance, $25 day of show. Tickets available by phone at 800-965-9324 and online at itickets.com.
For more information, call 662-895-1900 or visit longviewheights.org.
For award-winning inspirational singer Sandi Patty, the road is almost a break from the hubbub of the holidays. On Christmas Day, she and her eight children will join her husband for services at the Oklahoma City church where he works. Then in the days following, the celebration will continue as Patty and the family head to her hometown in Indiana.
"Our whole family will be there," Patty says of the family gathering in Anderson, Ind., where she made her performance debut at the age of 2. "It's almost two football teams."
Before all that, however, Patty will get to celebrate the holidays with her fans on her "Christmas Celebration" tour with former Crabb Family lead vocalist Jason Crabb.
The tour ends Friday night with a performance at Longview Baptist Church in Olive Branch.
"We've been having a wonderful time," Patty says of the pair's first tour together, a teaming that grew out of the relationship the two formed over the years performing at gospel legend Bill Gaither's "Homecoming" concerts. "We start the night together and we end the night together, and in between we cover just about every Christmas song."
The set list includes secular favorites like "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" along with more overtly religious numbers like "Go Tell It on the Mountain." The latter represents Patty's subtle return to her gospel roots after projects in recent years that have found the 56-year-old singer, known to fans around the world simply as "The Voice," branching out into secular music.
Patty first gained gospel fans' attention when as a student at Anderson University in the '70s, she began her long association with Gaither. In 1979 she made her recording debut, and over the next years became one of the most dominant forces in gospel music. She has won five Grammy Awards, four Billboard Music Awards and an astounding 39 Dove Awards while earning respect for her powerful, pure vocals.
But Patty, who worked for a time as a successful professional studio singer before embarking on her gospel career, also longed to sing other types of music.
"My parents always let us listen to such a wide variety of music, everything from The Beatles to Beethoven," Patty says. "I love, I absolutely love singing for the church, singing Christian music, singing inspirational music. I absolutely love it. I just always enjoyed other types of music, too, on a personal level."
Last year Patty released her first secular album, Broadway Stories, featuring her takes on several showbiz standards, including "Smile," "All Of Me," and "Send In the Clowns." She followed this year performing the lead in a concert version of the musical "Hello, Dolly!" with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
"It's not so much a branch off as much as kind of fulfilling a wish list," she says of the secular forays. "I'm so influenced by so many types of music, I just wanted to tip my hat to the Broadway music that had been so influential in my life."
Fans shouldn't worry that Patty is turning her back on gospel. After the holidays she will begin planning her next record, a project she says will make her fan base very happy.
"The roots of my music are so much the church," she says. "I feel this will be a project that will go right to the heart of the church."
Meanwhile, Patty is still working on that wish list of projects, including one that could streamline her future holiday celebrations.
"Now that my kids are all older, I would love to do a Christmas tour with my family," she says. "The oldest is 28, the youngest is 16. My husband is a beautiful singer, and the kids all sing and dance and act and compose. I just think we'd have a great variety of an evening."