MACON – Mercer University will celebrate the opening of the Ken Medema Collection in the Jack Tarver Library on Oct. 20-21. The well-known Christian musician and composer chose to donate his entire collection of musical works and related materials to Mercer.
On Oct. 20, Medema will perform with the Mercer Singers and Mercer University Youth Choir in Neva Langley Fickling Hall. The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The collection unveiling and brunch will be at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 21 in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center.
Blind from birth, Medema has been performing for more than 45 years. He began his career as a music therapist, during which time he began writing and performing his own songs about his life as a Christian. In 1973, he left music therapy and became a performing and recording artist full-time, traveling the world to perform his music. Many of his most popular songs began as live improvisations.
Dr. David Keith, dean of Mercer's Townsend School of Music, is close friends with Medema and worked to help bring the collection to Mercer.
“We are thrilled to have the Ken Medema archives at Mercer University,” said Keith. “Ken has been a great friend and has touched many lives through his music in churches, conventions, and meetings across the world. He has been an integral part of the Townsend School of Music at Mercer in his work with our graduate students through Prelude, a yearly conference that helps our students understand their core value system and how to approach their academic pursuits and life after Mercer using these values. Having his archives at Mercer will allow generations of students and lovers of his music the opportunity to study and explore the life's work of one of the most gifted musicians of the 20th and 21st century.”
Medema said he chose Mercer to house his collection after exploring many universities. It became clear that Mercer was the right destination for his works. “I just felt like the school of music here at Mercer, more than any other place I have been, is not only a wonderful music school, but it's a 'love fest.'”
The donated documents will be a part of the Special Collections department within Tarver Library.
Other activities during the celebration weekend include an Archives Open House in Tarver Library on Oct. 20 from 1 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. and again Oct. 21 from 10:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Additionally, Medema will lead a worship service at Mulberry United Methodist Church at 3 p.m. on Oct. 22 with three local church choirs from Mulberry United Methodist, First Baptist Church of Christ and Vineville United Methodist Church.
Reservations are required for the brunch and collection unveiling, and can be made by calling Gwendolyn Jenkins at (478) 301-2960. Brunch is $30 per person.
About Ken Medema
Legally blind Christian musician Ken Medema's passion for music began at the tender age of 5 while playing on his mother's piano. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1942, he grew up during a time when blindness was not widely accepted. Children shunned the young Medema for being different, and he spent much of his childhood alone seeking solace in music.
Medema started professional musical instruction when he was eight. Through the careful instruction of his teacher, young Medema was able to use Braille music sheets and his memory to learn the classics. He was encouraged to be innovative with his music style and his musical talent flourished. In 1969, Medema received a master's degree in Music Therapy from Michigan State University.
Medema began recording albums for Word and Shawnee Press in 1973, and in 1985 founded an independent recording company in Grandville, Michigan. He called his new company Bier Patch Music.
By 2002, Medema had produced several albums, and presented thousands of piano and voice performances all over North America, Australia, Africa and Europe.
About the Townsend School of Music
The Townsend School of Music on the Macon Campus offers undergraduate and graduate professional music studies in a comprehensive university environment. The School is nationally recognized for its outstanding faculty, award-winning students, performance ensembles, and state-of-the-art facilities. For more information and a complete listing of this season's concerts please visit www.mercer.edu/music, or call (478) 301-2748.