“Healing Heart” is singer/songwriter/saxophonist Ken Francis Wenzel’s first release since 2014’s full-length, …Beneath Potomac Skies, which garnered national AAA radio play, and was nominated for four WAMMIEs (Washington Area Music Awards).
“I wrote ‘Healing Heart’ on a Sunday night in early May, deep in the middle of quarantine,” recalls Wenzel. “At that time, we had yet to hear any whispers of re-opening the country, and we were all left with our own thoughts on how to get through it. Covid was already political by then, and I wanted to describe common themes that we all as people were dealing with: isolation, uncertainty, fear, worries about getting sick, getting our loved ones sick, wanting to “do something” but not knowing what, financial pressure, depression, all of it. At that time, there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and I wanted to try to shine a light somewhere.”
A saxophonist, a guitarist, a singer/songwriter, and a bandleader, Ken has been described as a purveyor of restless midwestern sentimentality, who searches in his songs for the kinds of truth that’s often best found within oneself. Whether performing as a solo acoustic singer-songwriter or with his full band Cross Kentucky, Ken stays busy, playing 200+ shows a year across the DC, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia region, the eastern seaboard, the midwest, and south.
With the 2014 release of “…Beneath Potomac Skies” – a 12-song, full-band collection of moments and memories culled from time spent in Washington DC, and many other locales – Ken Francis Wenzel introduced his own roots-rock, country jazz-tinged take on love, learning, and life in contemporary America. Featuring several guest appearances from some of the DC area’s finest musicians, “…Beneath Potomac Skies” followed up his 2010 debut acoustic EP, “…This is Cross Kentucky”. With a raw voice, lyrical saxophone, and honest, straightforward songwriting, both records showcase the perspective and passions of a well traveled, yet still searching singer/songwriter – one with a somewhat different story and background than most.
Born and raised in Champaign, Illinois, Ken studied classical saxophone at the University of Illinois before graduating from UNLV in Las Vegas, NV with a degree in jazz studies. He spent the next decade playing all over the world: in Las Vegas casinos; on cruise ships in Northern Europe, Africa, and Asia; at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan; on national tours of Broadway musicals; at festivals including the 2004 Montreux Jazz Festival and 2010 Chicago Blues Festival; and of course, in countless clubs and small venues. He continually worked as an in-demand freelancer, playing saxophone with artists both locally and nationally – including, among many others, Frankie Avalon, Ben Vereen, Bobby Parker, Noel Gallagher & High Flying Birds, and Carlos Santana.