CHEBOYGAN – The past two years have undoubtedly had an impact on the world and, through the turmoil, regional artist and instrumentalist Ken Verheecke has found a way to appease minds and hearts across the world.
However, it wasn’t just the pandemic that saw Verheecke’s music take off, it was years of touring, performing, writing, recording, and a tenacity to continue and create.
âI saw John Prine grow old,â Verheecke said. “I don’t know how long this will last, but as long as I have the support of my family, my loving wife, and the creativity and motivation to keep going, I will.”
The 62-year-old musician made his debut and cut his teeth watching and following the guitarist of his church’s youth group.
He had just moved to South Dakota from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and while attending church he became really drawn to the guitar.
âWe ended up moving because my dad was ordered to relocate from the Air Force,â Verheecke said.
âI went to church most of my life, but there was this guy in the youth group with a guitar. I was too old to be in the youth group so after volunteering, I came early to watch him practice, “he said.
The following week, the guitarist brought in a second one for Verheecke to learn, take the chords and play the game. The rest is history.
âIt was a month after I learned to play the guitar that I started a band,â said Verheecke.
“I quickly got into the guitar. I’m not saying I have this great gift, but it came easily and I played endlessly.”
The band toured the country for five years with Verheecke on tour for another five years with another band before finally hitting the road solo.
He’s seen nearly every mile across the country after playing in Tennessee, Kentucky, New York, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, California, Michigan and beyond.
It wasn’t until 1993 that he decided to quit his 13-year-old full-time job and pursue music full-time.
Thinking back to the decision, he’s glad he did.
âThe real reasoning behind it was that I lost both of my parents within a year of each other and realized that we are not here forever,â he said.
Verheecke has since continued to tour, signed with Heart Dance Records, released numerous records and singles, and has attracted listeners from all over the world with an average of around 73,000 monthly listeners on Spotify with his instrumental music alone.
“I didn’t start making instrumental music until about 1992, after I bought a Will Ackerman album,” he said. “I put the needle on the record and listened to the first side and was blown away. I’ve always wanted to emulate that in some way.”
The many messages Verheecke receives each year say a lot about how he did just that while finding his own voice.
The stories and messages from people around the world who have heard his music and the sense of inner calm and peace he seeks show the power of his instrumental creations.
âI got a message from someone in Spain who told me he was going to kill himself but was listening to Spotify when my song came out,â he said.
âHe sat there and kept listening, then went through my music catalog, fell asleep and, when he woke up, realized he was still alive. said my music gave him hope to continue. ”
Verheecke attributes the change in the music and streaming industry to his successes, but it is also his continued and unerring willingness to keep moving forward and writing.
He spends every day finding ways to present his music to playlists on Spotify and Apple Music with the goal of turning his roughly 73,000 monthly listeners into 100,000 listeners.
âI don’t know if I got it, but playlists are a very vital and important thing in getting your music playing and I spend my days doing just that and submitting my tracks to playlists that are. address peaceful musical genres, “he said. noted.
âI came to Michigan three years ago wondering how I could make this work and just did research and research and research,â he said.
Verheecke currently doesn’t have much on his schedule in terms of tours or performances in 2022, but is constantly working on new music to stream and share with the world.
Learn more about Verheecke’s music and listen to it online at www.kenverheecke.com or on streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify.