Singers Who Sinned Try to Win Back Fans
Duin, Julia, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Bill Clinton should talk to Sandi Patty. After the contemporary Christian diva committed adultery in 1991, she dropped out of the music business for a few years, confessed her various affairs and sought forgiveness from the wronged wife.
Now that she's come clean, she's claiming a "new beginning" and is back on tour, appearing tomorrow night at Riverdale Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro.
Although loath to give personal advice to the beleaguered president, the 41-year-old singer says, "In my own experience, the quicker you can put the cards on the table, the better. People aren't so much interested in all what went on as they want to know: Are you going to own it?"
As if to press home the point of redemption, another formerly adulterous Christian singer, Michael English, 35, is also appearing this weekend in the Washington area. Hyped by ads on the Arlington-based Christian radio station WAVA-FM proclaiming "Michael English is back!" the singer hopes to fill the 3,500-seat Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge Saturday night.
The message, says Mr. English's promoter, John Remson of Calvert Christian Group, is that redemption is possible for everyone.
"He gives his testimony in the concert and basically apologizes for what he did, not that he has to," Mr. Remson says. Ticket sales are a bit slow, he says, as, "People are still holding a bit of an attitude here. But some people want to hear others who struggled and overcame."
Christian singers are held to much higher moral standards than are, say, politicians, and the local appearance of two of Christian music's fallen angels brings up the question: How quickly do people forgive and forget?
"I think for me to be able to move on, I needed to seek forgiveness" from the Christian public, Miss Patty says in an interview. "I know that trust has to be earned and I think only time takes care of that.
"I suppose any performer or anyone in public office, in the back of your mind you think, `How are they perceiving this?' There's this constant damage control. There is something freeing about [when] people know the worst possible thing. You know who your friends are."
Not surprisingly, her ticket sales have also been slow.
"People are a little guarded and cautious, as they should be," she says. "I think if I were in their shoes, I would be. Those who come to the concerts seem to be very encouraged when they leave.
"But I am sure there are fans who will never buy my records again. That is a loss."
Mr. English's comeback has been more difficult. Whereas Miss Patty was forthcoming with her explanations, Mr. English blasted the Christian music industry for abandoning him. His fall rocked the Nashville-centered industry, causing some Christian artists there to set up "accountability groups" where they could privately confess failings.
The winner of six Dove Awards - the Christian equivalent of the Grammy Awards - in 1994, including artist of the year, he saw his career drop through the floor a few weeks later when he announced he had committed adultery with Marabeth Jordan, another Christian singer. …