Ken Medema

Hears with the heart and sings with his soul to make every event memorable as he improvises up to the minute happenings


Industries

Associations, Colleges and Universities


Topics

Change, Diversity, Humor, Teamwork/Teambuilding


Full Bio


About Ken Medema

From the time Ken Medema was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1942, he has been unable to see with his physical eyes. His sight is limited to distinguishing between light and darkness and seeing fuzzy outlines of major objects.

"As a kid I was not widely accepted," he says, "and I spent a lot of time by myself. Because I have lived with some degree of being different all my life, I have some sympathy for people who have been disenfranchised, whether they have been disabled or politically oppressed or whatever."

Music early became a major component of Medema's life. "I started banging on the piano when I was five years old," he says, "making up crazy little fantasies on my mom's piano. My parents got me a wonderful teacher when I was eight years old who taught me the classics by Braille music and taught me to play by ear." His teacher also taught him to improvise. "Every time I learned a piece my teacher would tell me, 'Now you improvise in that style.' So music became a second language."

After graduating from high school Medema studied music therapy at Michigan State University in East Lansing, where he concentrated heavily on performance skills in piano and voice. He worked as a music therapist in Fort Wayne, Indiana, returned to Michigan State for a master's degree (1969), then worked for four years as a music therapist at Essex County Hospital in New Jersey. It was while employed there that he began writing and performing his own songs. "I had a bunch of teenagers who were really hurting," he says, "and I started writing songs about their lives. Then I thought, 'Why don't I start writing songs about my life?' So I started doing that, and people really responded."

In 1973 Medema left his work as a therapist and began a career as a performing and recording artist. He recorded albums for Word and Shawnee Press, then in 1985 founded Brier Patch Music.

Brier Patch is an independent recording, publishing, and performance booking company with headquarters in Grandville, Michigan. Brier Patch is named after Brer Rabbit's home in the legendary Uncle Remus stories. "Brer Rabbit lived in a place not comfortable for anyone else," Medema says, "and we decided to follow him there." Brier Patch creates musical expressions that celebrate all aspects of the human experience, with an emphasis on spirituality and such universal concerns as peace, justice, and the environment.

Today Medema performs in a widely variety of venues, from corporate conventions to annual assemblies to national organizations to charity fund-raisers to universally televised religious programs to university campuses.

Ken Medema and his wife Jane have been married since 1965 and live in the San Francisco Bay area of California. They have two grown children and four grandchildren.

 

Recently Ken Medema Has Appeared at Such Events as:

Kiwanis International 2006

Mosaic Company, 2006

Alzheimer Association, 2007

Great Harvest Bread Company, 2006

Social Security Administration, 2005, 2006

Guideposts Magazine, 2006

Salvation Army Regional Events, 2005, 2006

Methodist Regional Annual Conferences 2005, 2006

Episcopal Regional Conference, MD 2006

Lutheran Regional Synods, IN-Kentucky, TX/NB, 2003-2006

United Church of Christ, local and national 2001-2006

Keller Williams Convention, Las Vegas, 2004, 05, 07

Youth Specialties Annual Convention, 1991-2005

Opportunities Unlimited, 2006, 2007

"30 Good Minutes" TV program, Chicago (frequent guest)

Colleges: Mt. Vernon Nazarene, Waynesburg,

Wheaton, Central, High Point Univeristy, Luther College

SEED Project, Wellesley College, 20 years

National Pastor's Conference, San Diego

Calvin Institute of Worship

Call to Renewal, Washington, DC

Ecumenical Stewardship Conference

American Payrool Association

Servicemaster

Amway Family Reunions and Dream Nights

J.W. Marriott Corporation

Over 150 events per year, including colleges and universities, secondary and elementary schools, corporate conferences and conventions, churches, parachurch groups and public service benefits.

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