Anderson University alumna Sandi Patty has added another honor to her list with her induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in February. She was one of four to receive this honor on Feb. 11 at Trinity Music City in Nashville. Others included the late Vestal Goodman, the Rev. Al Green, and Frances W. Preston.
“I think this is absolutely totally deserved and at a very timely moment in her life and career," said Anderson University President James Edwards. "She has enormous talent. ... From a personal view, I saw her come to Anderson University as a student, watched her relate to the campus, and begin her career with Bill and Gloria Gaither.”
Patty, who got her start as a backup vocalist for Alexandria's Bill and Gloria Gaither, joins them among the hall's 125 members, including Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Amy Grant, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Andrae Crouch, Tennessee Ernie Ford, the Oak Ridge Boys, Petra, the Rambos, Thomas A. Dorsey, the Fairfield Four, Billy Graham, and the Jordanaires.
"Will wonders never cease!" quipped Patty in discussing her latest accolade. "Actually, it's an honor to just be thought of among your peers, for them to say 'great job' after 25 years. God has been faithful through the ups and downs of my life, and it is my greatest joy to honor him in all that I do."
"The thing I love about Sandy is that she has all the musical tools to have the widest range of music," added Edwards. "I know she's at home with a big symphony, in a country corner and with gospel music in the church. She's the gal down the street; she's our gal; our friend. I'm gushing at this moment for her. She deserves this."
With 39 Dove Awards and five Grammy Awards to her credit, Patty is the most awarded female artist in the history of contemporary Christian music. Her 23 albums have sold more than 11 million units, including 23 Platinum- and five Gold-certified albums. Eleven of her Dove Awards were for Female Vocalist of the Year, the most by any artist.
Patty's career has spanned two decades, but it was in 1986 that she came into worldwide prominence when her version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" was used at the rededication of the Statue of Liberty and televised by ABC. Since then she has appeared on numerous nationally televised prime time specials and shows.
"It's funny," said Patty. "When I attended college here, I paid my way through by singing for people like Jane Beeler and Jan Woschitz at the Anderson Country Club. To count these people among my friends now is very special. My home is in this town. I live here. And really, I never thought I would do any more than teach school."
Goodman, affectionately known as the "Queen of Gospel Music," died Dec. 27 at age 74 of flu complications. She was notified in early December of her induction. A multiple Dove and Grammy-winning artist, she sang for many years as part of the Happy Goodman Family. Most recently, she was a featured performer on Gaither's Homecoming tour and video series.
Green formed his first gospel group at age 9 in Forest City, Ark., and has been singing gospel ever since. The Green Brothers toured throughout the South in the mid-1950s. He moved on to soul music and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. But he returned to gospel, pastoring at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis, Tenn.
Preston was inducted in the nonperformer category for his service as president and CEO of the BMI performing rights organization.
Pat Boone, a 2002 Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee, hosted the show, which was taped as a one-hour special for Trinity Broadcasting Network.
— Feature writer Stacey M. Lane Grosh is a reporter for the Anderson Herald Bulletin ( www.theheraldbulletin.com ).