MUSIC MINISTRY & MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT
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Even before she turned 18, singer/songwriter Sandy Lusco Huffman had quite a performance record.
The New Freeport, Greene County, resident began what would grow into a long musical career at age 13, when she sang at her school, church and events like square dances, contests and festivals.
She may have inherited her enthusiasm for music from her mother, Fran Brickner, who herself wrote songs and sang at a young age before going on to sing on radio shows and perform with big bands in the 1950s.
Brickner later set her career aside to raise her three children. Early on, she recognized that Sandy, her youngest, had a similar interest in music. To see if it would blossom, she took her daughter to guitar lessons for six years and coached her in singing and song writing. By 13, Lusco Huffman wrote her first song titled “I Want Your Love Baby.” There’d be many more to come through the years.
“When I was 15, my mom and dad took me to the Capitol Ballroom above the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, where I sang with the band that was playing after the Jamboree,” she said.
The experience led to performing on the stage of Jamboree In The Hills in Brush Run, Ohio, as a finalist in the Jamboree U.S.A.-sponsored “Starquest” competition. From there, she became Jamboree U.S.A’s youngest contracted member, opening shows at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling.
In addition to having her voice broadcast on station WWVA during a weekly live country music radio show, she opened shows for many national country artists including Alan Jackson, Hank Williams Jr., Donna Fargo, Bill Anderson, Porter Wagoner, Alabama, Tammy Wynette and Ronnie Milsap.
Starting out using her maiden name, Sandy Brickner, she performed at age 17 at a roadshow in Bloomington, Ind., as the warm-up act for Tammy Wynette. She also made the first recording of two of her original tunes at 17, with the staff band “New Generation Express” on the stage of Jamboree U.S.A.
With all this success behind her she said she reached a crossroads in life soon after graduating from high school.
“I wanted to go on to college to study music therapy, but just didn’t have the money,” she said. “That’s the time I met the Lord.”
“On June 14, 1981, I heard one of my favorite singers, Debbie Boone, testify and sing that Christ is the light of her life. Billy Graham followed with a Gospel message that pierced my heart,” her bio on her website states. “My bedroom became the altar where I poured out to God my failures, foolishness and brokenness.”
She began by volunteering to perform in nursing homes and asking the Lord what she should do with her musical talent. She soon realized that she was doing musical therapy when she entertained the elderly. Since winning the Jamboree contest, she’s continued to sing every year at various venues in the tri-state area except one or two when she had her third son.
Lusco Huffman said she loves what she does and has come to see how music can touch people, including those with dementia or who might be depressed. She said she’s seen some elderly who are unable to carry on a conversation suddenly be moved and join in on the lyrics while she’s singing.
With three young boys to inspire her, she wrote 25 or so children’s songs, which she turned into a cassette. It is one of two she recorded along with seven CDs and a double sided 45 rpm.
Currently, she’s performing an average of two to four times a week at personal care homes, churches, banquets, weddings, Christmas parties, funerals and organizations like Rotary, the VFW and Eastern Star. For 15 years she sang at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Although she started out in country music, she’s since grown into gospel, folk, 40s hits, bluegrass, show tunes, contemporary Christian, worship music, children’s music, oldies and pop.
Ten years ago, she went from playing 6-string to 12-string guitar. This she packs into a cart, along with her banjo, harmonica, lap harp and sound system, that accompanies her to each venue.
As part of her music ministry, she’s played at Jumonville in Fayette County, Bible programs, churches and summer Bible camps.
“In my music, it’s very important to me that I don’t contradict Biblical values or my Christian beliefs,” she said.
“No matter where I perform, my musical presentation may entertain, but it will always point people to the Gospel,” she continues. “If someone asks me to take any mention of God out of my performance that is when I shake the dust off my feet and go where people will accept what God has called me to do.”
Early in 2019, she took three months off her performance schedule to write songs and learn new material. Shortly before her mother passed this April, she recorded a 12-minute duet medley of songs from both World Wars and the Vietnam War.
The medley is included in her newest CD titled “Where The Boys Are,” an hour long recording dedicated to people who served in the military to bring honor for what they sacrificed for their country and, she said, “as a tribute to Jesus for the sacrifice he made for all mankind.”
Lusco Huffman has set a goal of recording 50 country and gospel songs she’s written.
“I promised my mother it’s something I’d do. One of the songs is set to her favorite psalm: Psalm 23,” she said. “God inspired me to compose the melody and I played it often for my mom when she was in hospice care at my house shortly before she died.”
Lusco Huffman’s recordings can be ordered on her website sandyluscohuffman.com, at concerts and at Lily Bee’s Floral and Gift Shop in Waynesburg.
I am always amazed at the amount of musical talent we have in our area. On any given weekend, you can find local musicians performing a variety of neighborhood venues. I am constantly encouraging others to support these regional acts by going out to catch a live show or by purchasing a CD or digital download. I recently came across a new offering from Sandy Lusco Huffman. The passionate singer/songwriter from Greene County has just released "Where The Boys Are," her seventh album. This stirring collection is a tribute to the sacrifices made by our Veteran's, first responders and law enforcement officers. The album also includes inspirational songs of faith, hope and love. The angelic voice of Huffman delivers added emotion to the covers of well known arrangements, starting with the opener "Soldier Boy." The track, released as a single by the Shirelles in 1962, receives the royalty treatment from Huffman and perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the numbers that follow. Huffman and her mother perform together during a special medley, highlighted with classic war-themed numbers such as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Something To Remember You By," "When The Lights Go On Again," "He Wears A Pair Of Silver Wings," Now Is The Hour," and the Title track. Additionally the album carries a spiritual tone throughout a variety of moving songs of steadfast faith. "Near The Cross" and the Vince Gill penned "Go Rest High On That Mountain" are standout performances describing the heavenly promises that await us. Written by Huffman, "America Bless God" is the lone original song on the album. Huffman's words are a solemn reminder for us to humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways in order to fully enjoy God's blessings. The album closes with a lovely version of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America" and a heartwarming bagpipe performance of "Amazing Grace." Huffman proves once again that she is a multi-talented artist possessing a diverse musical repertoire that is certain to entertain any audience.
Copyright © 2018 SANDY LUSCO HUFFMAN ~ MUSIC MINISTRY & MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT FOR ALL AGES - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry. (I Timothy 1:12)
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