Darlene started singing solos in church at the age of 3, and later found her musical passion in the soul, gospel, funk, and jazz music of the 1970’s. The vocal freedom of soul, combined with the rich chords and funky laid-back groove, continue to inspire her songs today. In addition to being an experienced singer, Darlene is a songwriter, arranger, choral & musical director, keyboard accompanist and educator.
She performs and collaborates with a variety of artists, singing select covers, jazz standards, gospel, soul/R&B, funk, and her original tunes. She has performed at the Vancouver Jazz Festival, the Jazz Cellar, as well as the Chan Centre and has sung with the legendary Leon Bibb. She has also sung with Shari Ulrich, Jane Mortifee, Ann Mortifee and other Vancouver artists. The Darlene Ketchum Quartet has toured the Kootenays and the Okanagan for the past three summers as well as performing at various events around the Vancouver area.
Darlene is the choral director, a composer/arranger and soloist for the Marcus Mosely Chorale (MMC), working as a team with Marcus Mosely and Bill Sample. As MMC chorale director, she has worked with Jim Byrnes, Eric Bibb, Dee Daniels, Jane Mortifee, Blu Mankuma, David Steele, the UBC Choral Union and Singers, City Soul (Brian Tate) and the Sojourners. She was assistant musical director for the 2016 Gotta Sing Gotta Dance, production and she has done session work as a conductor and vocalist at various recording studios around Vancouver (for Boulevard at the Warehouse, for the Wild! at the Armoury, for Jody Quine at Afterlife, for Carolyn Arends at White Water, etc).
Darlene was one of 100 featured artists in the We Make Stuff book, published in 2012, and released her first solo CD, Soul Connections (Extended Edition), in October 2014. Her Christmas song, Joy! Joy to the World, was nominated for the 2013 Word Guild Best Lyrics Award. Her song, I Will Not Be Shaken, was nominated for Urban Song of the Year by the 2014 Gospel Music Association of Canada – Covenant Awards. In 2017, her song “Hear Our Prayer” was nominated for the 2018 GMA awards. She and Bill Sample have just released a new album of their originals songs, “On the Outside” with their new band, Wild Blue Herons.
As a music educator, Darlene designed and directed the music programs and curriculum for the Institute of Music Ministry (IMM) at Pacific Life Bible College from 2003 to 2014. She specializes in teaching contemporary/jazz music theory, song writing, charting and arranging, piano and vocal coaching . Darlene was a vocal jazz adjudicator for the Con Brio Whistler Festival in 2017. In addition, Marcus Mosely, Bill Sample and Darlene have created curriculum and are teaching Gospel-style singing workshops. Darlene has organized and moderated a number of music events, including artist seminars and training, retreats, and concerts. She was part of a team that brought in performing artists for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, organizing concerts in venues across the city.
Darlene loves to connect with, encourage, inspire and empower others whether it is through singing, teaching, mentoring or just chatting about life over a cup of dark coffee…or ice cream!