When Ken Medema speaks during chapel on Tuesday, Sept. 9, and Wednesday, Sept. 30, he will not see any students. In fact, he will barely see anything at all.
Speaker and musician Medema was born blind in 1942, allowing him only to differentiate between light and dark and make out the fuzzy outlines of large objects.
According to Medema’s autobiography on www.kenmedema.com, his love for music started when he was young. He first played piano at age five. When he was eight, he began taking formal Braille music lessons, which he picked up easily, and he quickly learned how to play by ear and improvise.
Because of his talent, Medema decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music therapy at Michigan State University, and later on, he received his master’s degree there. He worked as a music therapist in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Cedar Grove, N.J.
However, as rewarding as his music therapy career was, he found himself yearning to do something else. This led him to writing music about his Christian life and about those around him.
Medema has been recording and performing music since 1973. He founded his own recording company, Brier Patch, in 1985 and has since made more than 20 albums.
He believes that Brier Patch is a tribute to, “all aspects of the human experience, with an emphasis on spirituality and such universal concerns as peace, justice and the environment.” He speaks in a variety of settings, from college campuses to charity fundraisers, to crowds of few to very many.
On top of his already busy schedule, Medema also provides the unique service of writing personal songs for people through his web site. He asks for an assortment of information and then, for a fee, writes and records a meaningful song for an individual.
NW will have the opportunity to hear Medema perform, but he will also provide a special message about his life and the struggles he and others have encountered.
“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 are disabled or politically oppressed or whatever,” Medema wrote in his online autobiography.
While he is in the region, Medema will also be speaking with select NW music majors about music ministry Sept. 30 at 8:30 a.m. He will also be speaking in Sioux Center at the Heartland Christian Schools Convention Oct. 1 and 2.