IF YOU GO
What: "When Life Gets Broken": Tennessee Church of God State Camp Meeting Ladies Day.
When: 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Where: North Cleveland Church of God, 335 11th St. N.E., Cleveland, Tenn.
Sandi Patty was in her most comfortable role last week, being a mom picking up a prescription in Target and buying snacks for her 16-year-old son's baseball team.
"I'm a real homebody," the contemporary Christian singer said. "I love to take care of my family."
Patty, the most awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music history, will be in a role she's a little less comfortable with Friday when she speaks -- and sings -- at the Ladies Day service at the Tennessee Church of God State Camp Meeting at North Cleveland Church of God in Cleveland, Tenn.
"Music has always been my way of communicating my heart," said the Oklahoma resident, who has five Grammy Awards, 40 Dove Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, three platinum records, five gold records and 11 million units sold out of 30 album releases. "I haven't always been that comfortable with words. In the last several years with Women of Faith, people have encouraged me to step out of that comfort zone."
Growing up, Patty, 55, thought she'd be a music teacher. Both her parents were musicians, and it seemed a natural fit.
But after singing across the country with her family and later as a studio musician, she began to travel with Bill and Gloria Gaither.
"Doors began to open that I didn't see," Patty said. "A way to help [me] through school became my profession."
She won her first two Dove Awards in 1982, headlined her first national tour in 1984 and received national acclaim when her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was included in the Statue of Liberty rededication broadcast on ABC on July 4, 1986.
"The older I've gotten," Patty said, "I've begun to maybe appreciate the doors that have been opened more than I did in the beginning."
Most recently, Patty released a pops album, "Broadway Stories," and starred as Dolly Levi in the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's concert stage version of the Broadway musical "Hello, Dolly!"
"Somewhere on my wish list was to do something with Broadway music," she said. "I love the music so much. My friends at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra were so kind to come along beside me."
Today, Patty tours about a third as often as she once did.
"I travel enough to where I feel artistically and creatively satisfied," she said. "I'm home quite a bit, which I love."
At home, in Oklahoma City, where Patty was born, she and her husband, Don, have a blended family of eight children ages 16 to 28.
"It looks a little different than it did when they all were little," she said. "I always tried to make sure they [were] my priority. If I was home more than I was gone, then I felt like I was able to put my actions where I said my priorities were."
In the Ladies Day service, Patty said she'll "speak and sing and share my heart -- the little lessons I've learned the hard way, some in a good way, some in a not so pretty way -- and how God has been faithful."
She even may include "Jesus Loves Me," which she said has been a constant in her life.
"When I first started out," Patty said, "I tried to find a unique way to tell my story. I wove that throughout, when I was taking piano lessons, when I was trying to sound like Karen Carpenter or Barbra Streisand. Through all the crazy times in my life, it has been there. It has been a foundation for me. It doesn't get any more profound or simple for me."