History behind the Voice
She was born Sandy Burton to Doug and Louella
(Warthen) Burton in Norwood, a small town in upstate New York. There was always music in her home. Among her earliest memories, she and her sister, Marilyn, enjoyed listening as their mother sang their younger brother, Allen, to sleep. "As a very young girl, I loved Rosemary
Clooney, Doris Day, and Patti Page. I used to think that I sounded just like Doris Day," Sandy says. Her musical experience spans from rock, pop, country, and gospel to theatre music. "I attribute my love for country music to my uncles, Bob, Pat, Bill, and Wayne
Warthen. They were responsible for my grandparents' living room always being filled with guitars, amplifiers, music, and laughter," Sandy says.
When she was seven years of age, Sandy's father's job took the family to Harrison, Ohio. For 5 years, she sang in an award-winning children's choir in Cincinnati. Just as she was about to enter Wm Henry Harrison High School, her father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He wasn't expected to live more than 6 months. But, the family was fortunate enough to have 2 more years with him. He died when Sandy was 16. Since all of her mom's family was in Emmitsburg,
Md, they packed up and moved "home." After college, her love for children led her to St. Andrew's School in Waynesboro, PA, where she taught art and music (grades 1-8).
Her music career took only a brief hiatus after Sandy married John Soffe of Brooklyn, New York. Singing lullabies to their two sons, Ed and Doug, wasn't enough for this stay-at-home mother. Her passion for music led her to giving voice lessons from her home along with singing in area nightclubs, theater, and church choir. For approximately 13 years, as Music Director of St. Joseph's Church Choir in Emmitsburg, Sandy had the privilege of singing with her Mom, Stepfather, Sid Sappington, aunts, and uncles. "How very special it was to be directing the very people who taught me how to sing!" Sandy says.
In October of '97 Sandy thought her musical career was ended when she was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, as a result of her computer job. Severe pain, weakness, and numbness in her arms, hands, shoulders, and neck inflicted physical limitations as well as financial hardships. She was not only forced to give up her job, but also the directorship of the Emmitsburg Community Chorus (which she had been directing for about 2 years). Months of physical therapy and other medical treatments proved unsuccessful. "I believe that there is a reason for everything, especially the negative things that happen to us. If we are supposed to move on to something else, that's when God gives us a little nudge to lead us where He wants us to be," Sandy says.
About 8 months after Sandy resigned from her job, she returned to giving voice training. In a home studio in Emmitsburg, she gives private as well as group vocal instruction to children, teenagers, and adults. During this period, Sandy felt inspired to start writing music again. In an effort to find specialty tapes for a music project, Sandy was introduced to Harvest Recording Studio, in Thurmont, Md. "Doug Benson, owner and operator, and his God-given talents, made an immeasurable contribution to all of my music," Sandy says. Their collaboration produced two albums and many other smaller music projects.
Often called a "Trail Blazer," Sandy's music seems to deal with topics that have never before been approached musically. "Un-chartered waters is where I often tread, I guess you could say," Soffe says. Both albums feature all original music by Sandy. The first album, "Reflections of Life" contains music that celebrates life. The song, "A Mother's Gift" gently, but powerfully, handles adoption. The song "I'd Like To Thank The Angel" deals with the death of a baby. Her second album," Serenity," (Musical Meditations on the Twelve Steps), deals with addictions. A song was written and recorded by Sandy for every one of the Twelve Steps. Addictions are a very special subject to her since her husband, John, has worked in the field of treatment and prevention for many years. Sandy's "Serenity" can be found in recovery stores all over the country.
In July of 2002, Kathy Foley of Link4U Productions, a California-based Internet company, heard Sandy's "Serenity" album. Kathy experienced first-hand the comfort that the music on this album can offer. A family member of Kathy's was only 60 days in recovery at that time. "The music is not just for the addict, it brings healing for family members of the addict, as well!" Kathy says. Feeling inspired by Sandy's musical project, Ms Foley created a video with Sandy's "Serenity Prayer Song," the first song on the "Serenity" album. It was launched on Link4U.com in late July and it is still receiving a wonderful response.
"The combination of Sandy's soothing voice, the healing words in the song, and the gentleness of the video brings many visitors to the site," Joe Miller of Link4U Productions said. Foley and her company have been promoting Sandy's music projects now since July 2002. The most exciting was when during the week of 9/11/02, Sandy's music received over 5 million listeners. Her 9/11 songs were offered to churches, schools, and military bases all over the country. Sandy's "We Are One" has also been synched to a Foley-created video. "I was inspired to write this song when it became obvious to me that our country that was so united only a year ago was becoming divided once again. My message in this song is to remind fellow Americans how we pulled together during that devastating time 9/11/01," she says. Even though 'We Are One' has only been launched on the Internet for a short time, it has received over 100,000 visitors. "People do get it! They get the message and feel the same as I do. Our country needs to come together again," Sandy added. All of the music that she has written has a special message. "Comfort and healing is what I want most for my music to reflect," Soffe says.
All of the Link4U tributes are offered for free online
viewing and listening. Joe Miller said, "This is a hurting world! Some people will visit several times a day to feel the consolation and hope that these songs/videos are impressing. The comments most used in response by visitors have been 'comforting' and 'healing,' " he
All of Sandy's music is spiritually based and is intended to reflect hopefulness. "If we don't have hope in this life, then we have nothing," she says. Although she continues to have chronic pain and weakness, Sandy feels that she has been blessed to be able to help others with her music. "When I am helping others, I forget about me and any pain that I have seems to be diminished!"
In addition to her music, Sandy has written and started illustrating three children's books. Many of her illustrations have graced the pages of Frederick's Child Magazine. Her children's story, "Danny's Christmas Stocking" was published in a winter issue. "Even though it is painful at times using my hands to illustrate, play the piano, and write music, the 'high' that I feel from the creative process outweighs the 'low' I feel from the pain! When I was a child, and even now, my Mom makes a point of reminding me that I am always my happiest when I am creating!" Sandy's latest music project entitled "I Kissed My Son Good-bye"
is giving support to our military and comforting many.