"I think I was the youngest church organist in the Midwest," says Ken Bradbury. "Actually, that's almost true...when I was five years old my mother 'hired' me to crawl on my hands and knees across the church choir loft, sit down between her knees and pump the organ while she played."
Ken has performed his faith-based piano ministry, a combination of humor and inspirational storytelling for over 40 years across the Midwest, and his unique mix of the stories behind Christian music along with a hilarious retelling of what could possibly go wrong in a church service has delighted both secular and faith-centered gatherings.
"All I need is a piano," says Ken. "That is a piano without doo-dads on the top. When I play things tend to fall off." His honky-tonk style of gospel music is much in demand for church services, denominational conventions, and faith-based gatherings of all sorts. "I think heaven's going to be a pretty good time," says Ken. "My music is sort of a warm-up."
Ken Bradbury, until recently a teacher at Triopia High School for 35 years, and now an instructor at Lincoln Land College is a resident of Arenzville, Illinois. Since 1995, he has been named the most-produced author of school speech contest material in the United States, his material having won top honors in nearly all fifty states and Puerto Rico, as his name has appeared in more contests than any other author.
Ken is the author of The Coonridge Digest, a newspaper column which has won the Associated Press Award for "Best Humor Column." The column appears in fourteen newspapers in Illinois and Missouri. He's also the author of four books, The Coonridge Digest, Around the World with Freida Marie Crump, The Coonridge Devotions, Homerville and his most recent book, Souptown.
His musical The Spirit of Lincoln played at Springfield's Hoagland Center last November and three of his Lincoln musicals have appeared at Lincoln's New Salem.
He's written music for five recordings by Shiloh, a Christian singing group, and is a founder and director of the Green Pastures Performing Arts Camp. The author of over 200 published plays and musicals, he and co-author Robert Crowe recently won the Lincoln Library Award for the play, The Shadow of Giants which appeared on Public Television. Their newest play, Why Spot Ran, premiered recently in San Diego. He was the winner of the Downstate Playwrights Award at the University of Illinois in 1998. In 2000 his work, Cries of Faith was performed at Illinois College and the University of Illinois.
Five years ago he formed a partnership with former rock musician Roger Wainwright. The pair have written and produced the musicals David; You and I, Camp Sunshine, We Can Change the World, The Spirit of Lincoln, Workin' It Out, DooWop, Cries of Faith, and Bystanders.
Bradbury is the winner of the Country Companies and Channel 20 Golden Apple Award for teaching, the Western Illinois University "Friend of the Arts" award, the Illinois College Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, the Illinois College McGaw Citation for Excellence in the Arts, and was named "Outstanding High School Teacher" by Eastern Winois University. Ken was recently awarded the honorary Doctor of Fine Arts by MacMurray College in Jacksonville, the honorary Doctor of Letters by Illinois College, and was inducted into the Jacksonville Hall of Fame. In 2004 he was given the Studs Terkel Humanities Award by the Illinois Arts Council. He also plays the bagpipes, much to the chagrin of his Arenzville neighbors.