about Ken Medema
For four decades, Ken Medema has inspired people through storytelling and music. Though blind from birth, Ken sees and hears with heart and mind, designing every musical moment of his performance with brilliant improvisation.
From the time he was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1943, Ken has been unable to see. 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 became a major component of his early life. “I started banging on the piano when I was five years old,” Ken says, “making up crazy little fantasies on my mom’s piano. When I was eight years old my parents got me a wonderful teacher who taught me the classics with 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.”
He studied music therapy at Michigan State University, where he concentrated on piano and voice performance. He worked as a music therapist before earning his master’s degree. Then he began writing and performing his own songs, eventually founding Brier Patch Music, 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.
Ken and his wife Jane have been married since 1965 and live in California. They have two grown children and two grandchildren.
Ken is represented worldwide by JEJ Artists.
Spiritual Life Week
October 1-5, 2013
Each semester, campus ministries leads Spiritual Life Week, an engaging series of events aimed at deepening faith in Jesus Christ. All programs are open to the public. Call 540-432-4115 for more information.
Fall 2013 events feature Ken Medema.
“Love One Another”
with Ken Medema
Monday: September 30
Launch RISE and Shine service project. http://riseharrisonburg.com/riseandshine
Campfire Worship on Thomas Plaza, 9 p.m.
Tuesday: October 1
Morning Prayer Walks meet on the steps of Lehman Auditorium at 8:25 or at the labyrinth at 8:30 (same for 9:25 and 9:30)
Wednesday: October 2
Chapel: Abide in My Love with Ken Medema in Lehman Auditorium, 10 a.m. Jesus said to his friends, make your home in my love. What does it mean to be at home in this love? Stories: A place that they felt at home.
After chapel fellowship with cookies and coffee in the Campus Center Greeting Hall from 10:40-11:30 a.m.
Listening to God. How do You Hear? with Ken Medema in Lehman Auditorium (on the stage), 3:40-4:30 p.m.
Ken Medema Concert: What is church? in Martin Chapel, 7 p.m. Admission is free with an EMU ID or $10 at the door. If I were in conversation with an alien and she asked me, “What is church?,” what would my answer be? What is it that I long for out of church?
Thursday: October 3 – Mission & Service Day
Conversations with Service Organization Representatives in the Campus Center Greeting Hall, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Meet with representatives throughout the day to learn about opportunities to serve both locally as well as overseas. Snacks and drinks provided!
Chapel gathering: Do What You Love and Please God with Ken Medema in Martin Chapel (Seminary), 11 a.m. How do we imagine God’s will for our lives?
Mission & Service Lunch Conversations (artists with Ken Medema) in Cafeteria, Noon-1 p.m.
Mission & Service Coffeehouse in Common Grounds, 9 p.m.
Friday: October 4
Chapel: Abide in Me with Ken Medema in Lehman Auditorium, 10 a.m. Every home needs work. What does our “home” work look like? Stories: What makes it hard to love?
After chapel fellowship with hot chocolate in the Campus Center Greeting Hall from 10:40-11:30 a.m.
Saturday, October 5
YPCA (Y-Serve) serving others in the glazed donuts booth at Virginia MCC Relief Sale – Rockingham Co. Fair Grounds, Harrisonburg, VA – all morning through lunch