‘Home sweet home’
— CUMBERLAND — Growing up in Allegany County and singing at local fairs, Sandy Steele never gave much heed to the future or thought she would someday be performing with Ronnie Milsap or Johnny Rodriguez — or having Johnny Carson carry her bags through the Sahara Hotel’s lobby in Las Vegas.
But, in 1968, the Allegany High School graduate and her sister packed their bags and moved to Nashville.
“You know, I really didn’t think that far ahead,” Steele said about whether or not she thought she had a future in the recording business. “We just went.”
From there Steele’s career took off, beginning in Printers Alley where big names like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Danny Thomas would visit.
Now, with only a one-year break during her singing career, Steele was invited back to Allegany County by her good friend Norma Packard to share her talent at the Flintstone High School class of 1967 reunion.
“In 2007, I went to Nashville and stayed with her and we reconnected,” Packard said. “We’ve just been friends forever and I know the talent she has. I knew the rest of the class would love to hear her again ... and she’s still got it, she wowed us.”
After being away for so long, Steele was thrilled to return.
“To be invited back to Cumberland and sing is a dream of mine,” she said. “To borrow a line from a poem Norma read, ‘this is the land that made me, me.’”
And coming around the bend and seeing the mountains, Steele said she really did feel like she was home.
“I love it here, I love the mountains,” she said. “And I’m thrilled to see all of the energy that’s reoccurring in Cumberland now.”
Steele said she can remember what Baltimore Street was like with an energy of a busy street in New York.
“Things changed and the energy went away and the beautiful architecture was lost,” she said. “But now that (people) are sharing an interest in health, and making everyone aware of this fabulous environment, is bringing people back to Cumberland ... I’m thrilled. It just feels really good to be home — home sweet home.”
Steele now lives in Nashville with her husband and has two daughters. She’s recorded songs such as “Crazy Arms,” “No Time Like the Past,” “She May be Lonely,” “Love is What We Make it,” “Even the Stars” and “So Hard Living Without You.”
Tess Hill, Cumberland Times-News
Photograph of Sandy Steele and Al Feldstein taken by Steve Bittner at the Cumberland Rotary meeting
Allegany County (Md.)--Biography; Allegany County (Md.)--Women.
Allegany County, (Md.)