Q&A Scene: Darlene Koldenhoven

Tell us about your new single/ album/ tour?

My new album, Traveling the Blissful Highway (10/14/22), has 12 of my original compositions made to help us travel through life blissfully. The music is New Age – Ambient – World Music influenced. Half the album is uplifting with dynamic energy and the other half is specifically very calming. The first single from the album, “Cheerful Mohana” was composed and arranged using the Indian morning raga (scale) called mohana which they use to alleviate depression, anxiety, headaches and more. This piece, and the whole album, was designed to bring positive energy into our environment and into our being so that we can go out into the world, ready to share our best selves with each other; kind of like a soundtrack for our lives or a passport to bliss as we travel through life’s journey.

What’s your favourite work at this point in time?

Well, of course the latest instrumental work, Traveling the Blissful Highway, feels like the favorite now; but I’d have to list “Emmanuel” and “Pie Jesu” from my holiday album Heavenly Peace for favorite vocal performance along with my vocal album Infinite Voice and my album Color Me Home for concept vocal & instrumental album (comes with a coloring book and is about our beautiful earth).


How would you describe your sound in food form and why?

Interesting question . . . chocolate soufflé came to mind first. Yummy! Many flavors and sensations. Like my music, satisfying in terms of texture, form, theme, is uplifting because of the chocolate and sugar, rises to the occasion, has simple ingredients that create a world of sensations like the musical instrumentation used in my music; is rich and beautiful, made with special care, light, yet stimulating and calming to the senses at the same time, and totally fulfilling or just plain filling!


Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.

Oh well I could write a book on this one so its hard to pick just one, having sung on over a thousand recordings with so many big name artists on records or live shows, films and TV shows. Each recording session had some interesting twist whether it be Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart, both Sister Act films with Whoopi Goldberg, or Paul McCartney kissing me on the cheek at the end of his show as he got up from the piano and exited across the stage where I was singing background vocals for him at the Hollywood Bowl, just to give a name to a few.

However, I guess one of my funniest anecdotes would be the time I was on tour in Australia with Gloria Loring and the whole band visited the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. While I was feeding the kangaroos, a rather large roo decided to dig his claws into my shoulders, reared up on his tail, and boxed my arse until I had two giant bruises on each cheek and couldn’t sit down for a few days. I was yelling, “Get him off, get him off of me!” Gloria brought it up to the audience during the show the next evening and of course, we all had a good laugh.


What, or who, inspires you?

Inspiration comes from all kinds of emotions or books or art and people. My late father had a chest full of trophies for baseball and bowling and now my friends tease me about having so many awards myself for my music and music performances throughout my lifetime. I just thought that was the normal course of events being raised with all that. But more importantly, my father, Richard A. Koldenhoven, was honored for his service in the army in WWII and in the Korean War where he was presented with the USA’s second highest medal of honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, also a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars one with Oak Leaf Cluster for valor. So growing up, my mom constantly reminded me to be like my father with his courage, bravery, persistence, and excellence. He passed away when I was 14 and my deaf sister was 5, so I wish I had gotten to know him better as I got older. I dug into his service history and found several newspaper articles about him. It inspired me to write a song about him as a testimony to all our heroes of service titled, “Remember Me” from my Solitary Treasures album. There’s a video of my live performance of it at a Veteran’s Day service on YouTube.


Which song do you wish you wrote?

“Nessun Dorma” from the opera Turandot by Puccini. Even though it is written for a tenor, I just had to record it, albeit up the octave, on my Solitary Treasures album. I love the chord progressions and the melody is just so easy to sing. It is probably one of the most powerful songs ever written. Even my stoic engineer broke down during the recording of it not to mention that every time I sang it in concert to close the show or as my encore piece, I’d put my mic down and let it rip. At least half the audience wept throughout the entire song, they said they could actually feel the music inside. Now that’s a powerful song!

What’s next for you?

I’ll be promoting the new album this year, with some concerts, appearances, competitions, the Grammys and the like. Although I enjoy this phase, it is not my favorite part. I love the creative parts like writing new music, hiring and recording world-class musicians and singers, performing what I write on keyboard synths, piano and voice, working in my studio. That’s my favorite part. I’m already working on the next project before this one even comes out!


What’s your scene?

My scene is making music in my recording studio, either alone or with friends. Doesn’t matter if its recording, producing, arranging, playing my Baldwin grand piano, or teaching voice and helping kids and adults using sonic therapy. It all happens in there!


GRAMMY® Award Winner and 3-time Nominee, Darlene Koldenhoven is a vocalist, pianist, synth programmer, composer, arranger, lyricist, engineer, producer, speaker, voice teacher, and sonic therapist from Los Angeles, CA, born and raised in Chicago, IL.

Darlene is best known worldwide as the featured soprano in “Yanni, Live at the Acropolis” and for her role as the tambourine-waving choir nun in both “Sister Act” films with Whoopi Goldberg. Her last two solo piano albums, “The Grand Piano Spa” and “The Grand Piano Spa: Legacy” debuted on the prestigious Billboard Classical Crossover Charts at #4 and #8, respectively in May & November 2021. This past May & June brought Darlene an Outstanding Legacy Award from the Akademia Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award from One World Music Radio. She was inducted to the Indie Music Hall of Fame at the GRAMMY® Museum in 2019 by the Indie Music Channel Awards and the Coalition of Visionary Resources hailed her “Chromatones” as Album of the Year a few months later. Several of her albums ranked #1 on the worldwide ZMR Radio Charts and she has 2 Best New Age Vocal Album and Best Holiday Album from ZMR. Her new single, “Cheerful Mohana,” received a nomination from the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, ceremony 11/14/22 and the single won Best World Music Recording from the Indie Music Channel Awards 9/4/22.

Ms. Koldenhoven has authored “Tune Your Voice: Singing and Your Mind’s Musical Ear,” a comprehensive music education book with 7 CDs or downloads. She founded the non-profit charity Music Matrix Foundation in 2021 to help people through music, music education, sonic therapy, and technology. Darlene performs her music and gives workshops worldwide. For full bio click here. Connect with Darlene Koldenhoven on social media.

About Mary Boukouvalas 1612 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.