Darlene Koldenhoven: Class Act

06/20/2017 06:10 am ET
Photo: Brigitte Jouxtel

The glint in Darlene Koldenhoven’s eye tells you she’s somebody very special. A woman of remarkable musical talent and accomplishment, clear concise intelligence and a quick wit she puts you immediately at ease with her comfortable confident demeanor. You might recognize her as the tambourine-waving nun in both Sister Act films. During our first conversation in February of this year we bonded over our mutual continuing support of Hillary Clinton. We are both part of the growing community of independent artists who are members of The Recording Academy. At the time Darlene was anticipating the release of her new CD, “Color Me Home,” a collection of her latest original New Age material complete with a coloring book she personally designed to accompany the CD for maximum benefit and enjoyment to the listener.

Darlene was quick to tell me “Color Me Home,” her ninth album, is her first CD release of all her original music/lyrics and it was clear she was taking nothing regarding its reception by the press and public for granted. Even though she performed “Aria” as featured soprano soloist as part of “Yanni, Live at the Acropolis” for 1.5 billion people Darlene anxiously awaited first reviews of “Color me Home” released on April 21, 2017 and when those reviews came in they were spectacular. Darlene was thrilled with the news that “Color Me Home” debuted as #1 on the prestigious ZMR Radio Charts (May, 2017) voted on by New Age broadcasters worldwide. “As an independent artist on my own label, I am overjoyed at the incredible reviews and with the radio debut of “Color me Home” at #1 on the worldwide radio charts for New Age/Ambient/World music. It’s my first of all my own material and arrangements. With a lot of heart and soul I worked on it throughout 2016 and I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say; how I could make a positive contribution in our current world of chaos. I wanted it to have an easy pulse with a humanitarian purpose for peace and planet” Darlene tells us. Darlene’s fans have shared their enthusiasm for her latest CD with her in the form of actual letters in the mail and phone calls along with posting some of the images they colored from her coloring book. This personal interaction with fans has touched Darlene and given her a most meaningful reward in knowing her work has resonated with its listeners.

There is no doubt that Darlene Koldenhoven, a Grammy winner in 1986 and three-time nominee, has been gifted with an incredible 5-octave range voice. As custodian of this gift she had dedicated her life to honoring it by way of the hard work necessary to its development and the desire to share it with others through performing and teaching. Darlene is a credentialed teacher with a Master in Voice, magna cum laude and a B.A. in Music Education cum laude from Chicago Conservatory College. A strong advocate of improving physical and mental wellness through music she has, as a credentialed sonic therapist and international lecturer, created her own blend in sonic therapy to focus on the ear, voice and health connection. “I didn’t realize I had been into music as therapy my whole life until my mother reminded me that when I came home from school upset, I’d go play the piano for hours. Of course singing daily always makes one feel great and is probably the best thing one can do for their physical and mental health. The sonic therapy I work with now is practiced by hundreds of thousands around the world with positive effects for depression, PTSD, ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism, speech, and more. For my pitch and rhythm challenged voice students, I use it along with my Listening Eye technique from my book with 7 CDs, “Tune Your Voice: Singing and Your Mind’s Musical Ear," to expedite repair and expand the ear/voice. For the gifted, I use it to optimize the voice, enhance creativity and think more musically. There’s information on my DarleneKoldenhoven.com website.” As one who has struggled with the confidence to sing all my life I must say from personal experience that this renowned vocal coach has offered me nothing but encouragement. To me it is Darlene’s willingness to share her gift in this way that makes her special.

Darlene’s resume is astonishing and in conversation with her it is one interesting and often amusing well told anecdote after another. She is a natural born storyteller. Recently while thumbing through a bin of used LPs with her she asked the vendor if he had a copy of Pink Floyd’s “A Momentary Lapse of Reason”. He said he did not and informed us it was one of their best sellers. Darlene told him she sang on it and he instantly became a fan regretting that he did not have his personal copy with him for her to sign.

While warm and friendly it is obvious Darlene has a backbone of steel forged while growing up on the South side of Chicago in a strict Dutch Christian Reformed/Calvinist family headed by her mother. Her father died at age 41 when Darlene was 14. Captain Richard Koldenhoven received the Distinguished Service Cross and a Silver Star for his bravery in the Korean War as well as two Bronze Stars, one with valor in World War II. Darlene’s accomplished younger sister was born deaf and at age 9 Darlene learned about vibration when it became her job to help teach her sister how to speak, sing and spell. Darlene’s uncle, Dean Koldenhoven is a recipient of The John F. Kennedy Profile In Courage Award in 2002. As the former mayor of Palos Heights, Illinois he spoke out against religious discrimination within his community and stood up against intolerance directed at members of the Chicago suburb’s Muslim community when they attempted to open a mosque in the town. Sacrifice, hard work and perseverance have built Darlene’s character and spirit and demonstrate clearly how talent alone is not enough. “My upbringing, as strict and repressive as it was, also taught me discipline and how to accomplish a goal. From dad the lesson was courage and excellence. Mom told me practically every day to be an individual; to persevere and take action, in spite of how one feels” Darlene recalls.

Not one to rest on anything, the future holds much for Darlene. She will enter “Color Me Home” in the 60th Grammy competition and takes nothing for granted once again. Please visit her website and allow yourself some time to linger. You will find many surprises beyond over a thousand recordings on which she has performed. One of my favorites is that Darlene sang on “Blame Canada” the 1999 Oscar nominated song from “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut”. Who knew? Like I said, plan to spend some time…it’s worth it.

Darlene Koldenhoven’s 2017 CD “Color Me Home.”
Photo/Design: Aly Kay and Darlene Koldenhoven
Darlene Koldenhoven’s 2017 CD “Color Me Home.”
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