Darlene Koldenhoven
Paul Landry

Darlene Koldenhoven was born in a mixed neighborhood on the South side of Chicago to a family with an extensive musical lineage, but hearing only the singing of her mother and maternal grandfather. Darlene could hold her own harmony part by age 3, making her Easter Sunday debut in church singing a solo, "Low in the Grave He Lay." Her initial emphasis of formal musical training was classical piano, which she began studying in earnest from age 9 through her college years and beyond. At 7, she learned sewing from grandmother and continues to carry on the tradition to this day, sewing and occasionally designing most all of her clothes and concert gowns. Her father, awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and two Bronze Stars with valor, died from malaria complications contracted during his “tours of duty" when she was 14. The family suffering from the financial hardship, a single mother, and her sister being born deaf, didn’t allow her hard working mother to afford formal singing lessons for Darlene until age 16 when she won her first scholarship vocal competition. The product of a strict Dutch Christian Reformed/Calvinist family,

Darlene was only allowed to listen to or play religious or classical music, not allowed to improvise, and never really listened to pop music until college where she absorbed everything from the Beatles and Middle Eastern music to Jazz. But the fierce work ethic and discipline she learned from home and her schooling made her an outstanding scholarly achiever, thus preparing her for the ubiquitous and enviable career she now relishes in the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles. Arriving in Los Angeles in January with only a leap-of-faith, $400, her car, her turntable, 6 wool turtleneck sweaters and slacks (she’s from Chicago), all other belongings destroyed en route and no contacts – therein lay the story of how hard work and perseverance pays off . . . 

Ms. Koldenhoven revealed an early sensitivity to teaching and nurturing when she assisted in the early speech therapy of her only sibling, a sister 9 years younger who was born deaf with bilateral aural atresia and one of the first to use bone conduction hearing aids at 6 months old. Experimental surgery created some hearing capabilities for her at age 4. Revelations from that experience impacted Koldenhoven three-fold, sparking her intense interest in how vocal sound is created by the smallest gestures of the structures of the mouth, sound vibration as a source of healing and restoration, and the expressive possibilities of vocal sound without words - a signature element of her singular style. 

About twenty years ago, Darlene lost the use of her right hand for 5 years from a horrible accident where reconstructive surgery left her with a deformed finger. In spite of the possibility of never being able to play piano again, the determined young woman persisted through years of sometimes painful practice, to finally regain most of her prowess on the piano. Previously she performed harpsichord and piano with orchestras and accompanied several well known artists on synthesizer, piano and vocals. Now Darlene enjoys performing on piano, synth and vocals at her own concerts, live or streaming. 

When asked about the future, in addition to her regular activities, Darlene is looking forward to touring with her concerts and workshops and is in the process of developing a unique music education program for those with special needs. 
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