Sandi Patty has returned to the top of the Christian music charts with a new recording two years after confessing an extramarital relationship that put her career into a tailspin.

Released in late October, Patty's Artist of My Soul was among the top ten contemporary Christian recordings for more than five weeks.

In August 1995, Patty married Don Peslis, with whom she had an extramarital affair during her first marriage, which ended in a 1993 divorce (CT, Sept. 11, 1995, p. 72). Peslis, who is also divorced, had been a backup singer for Patty.

As her personal life came under an intense media spotlight, Patty's recording company, Word Records, delayed release of her Christmas album for one year. Patty reduced her performance schedule, spending more time in Anderson, Indiana, with her new blended family, which now encompasses eight children.

But one year ago, for the Clinton presidential inaugural, Patty began to relaunch her career, starting with her televised singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Last month on ABC's PrimeTime Live Patty said, "I don't want to pretend. I want to set things right. I don't know if there is even a way to make some horrendous wrongs right." Also, in an interview with KSBJ, a Houston radio station, Patty observed, "The owning, naming, and confessing of the sin in my life was the beginning of experiencing the freedom that only comes through Christ.

"I know I let my marriage down with John [Helvering] in huge ways. I have tremendous regrets about that." Patty said she had used her ministry career as a substitute for a spiritual relationship with God. "You think that's a replacement for a relationship, and it is not; that is a lesson I have learned the hard way."

For 1998, Patty has a growing number of performance dates, and there are signs that she is regaining her audience. "Breathe on Me," a song from Artist of My Soul, has gained a spot on Christian radio play lists nationwide. With lyrics such as "Breathe on breath of God. Cover my sin with your mercy," Patty may have found her own distinctive way to integrate a troubled past and an authentic music ministry.

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