Kenoly, Ron 1944–
Ron Kenoly 1944–
Former soul singer Ron Kenoly is a charismatic worship leader whose music helped revitalize the American evangelical movement and gospel music in the 1990s. Often playing to gatherings of over 10,000 people at his “meetings,” Ron Kenoly is the most popular praise and worship leader of the early twenty first century. Kenoly began his full-time ministry in 1985 and sold over four million worship albums in the 1990s alone, grossing over twenty-four million dollars. He has won many awards for his music and is the founder of Ron Kenoly Ministries and the Academy of Praise, a mentoring program for people involved in Christian music and in praise and worship.
Ron Kenoly was born on December 6, 1944, in Coffeyville, Kansas, one of six sons. He has said that he hardly knew his father, who was in the military, but his mother, Edith, raised the children almost single-handed. Kenoly graduated from high school in Coffeyville and immediately moved to Hollywood. He joined the United States Air Force in 1965 and served for three years. While in the Air Force he married his wife Tavita; they have three sons. He attended Alameda College, graduating with an associates degree in 1982, and with a bachelors degree in Biblical Studies from Friends International Christian University (1983). Kenoly went on to graduate study at Faith Bible College (M.Div., 1985) and graduated with a Ph.D. in Ministry of Sacred Music from Friends International Christian University in 1997.
Kenoly began his musical education in church, singing in a children’s choir. He was serious about music from an early age and decided to become a musician. While serving in the Air Force Kenoly joined a band called the Mellow Fellows and toured military bases performing Top 40 hits. Soon after leaving the military Kenoly became a popular nightclub entertainer in Los Angeles and had some success as an R&B performer, recording for major record labels such as MCA and A&M. By the mid-1970s the demands of Kenoly’s career had begun to affect his family and personal life. Kenoly attributes the recommitment of his life to Jesus Christ in 1975 to the personal crisis he suffered in the early 1970s.
Kenoly began trying to break into the gospel music scene in the late 1970s but had very little success until he produced his own album You Ought to Listen to This in 1983. He began his full-time ministry in 1985 when he became Minister of Music at the Jubilee Christian Center in San Jose, California. Kenoly released his first gospel album for Integrity Music, Jesus Is Alive in 1991. His first eight live albums with Integrity sold over four million copies. In 2003 Kenoly resigned with Integrity for an undisclosed seven figure sum, a record for the Christian music industry.
Recorded music has always been an important part of Kenoly’s ministry, but it is for his meetings that he has been most celebrated. In the United States he regularly attracts congregations of 15,000 people, while in Bangalore, India, he performed for over 200,000 worshippers at a single meeting. For the performance recorded on his Majesty album (1998), Kenoly assembled a choir of 300 voices and a full orchestra to worship with a congregation of 8,000.
Born on December 6, 1944, in Coffeyville, KS; married Tavita; children: Tony, Samuel, Ron Jr. Education; Aarneda College, AA, music, 1982; Friends International Christian University, BA, biblical studies, 1983; Faith Bible College, MDiv, 1985; Friends International Christian University, PhD, 1997, Military Service: United States Air Force, 1965-68. Religion: Christian.
Career: R&B artist, recording with MCA and A&M, 1968-78; student and teacher, 1978-85; Jubilee Christian Center Minsiter of Music, 1985-99; Faith World Minister of Music, 1999–; Ron Kenoly Ministries, and the Academy of Praise, founder.
Awards: Angel Award for Lift Him Up, 1993; Dove Award, for Praise and Worship Album of the Year, 1997; Cesar Castellanos, President of the Missionary Charismatic International Church in Bogota, Columbia, named Kenoly Psalmist of the Century.
Addresses: Ron Kenoly Ministries, P. O. Box 2200, Windermere, FL 34786.
mentoring program for praise and worship leaders. With bases in England and Brazil, Kenoly established the Academy to have global influence. In music too Kenoly moved in new directions, releasing his first studio album, Dwell in the House in 2001 and setting up his own recording company to produce The Perfect Gift (2001) and Solo Para Ti (2002). Through these many projects Kenoly has become one of the most influential gospel singers and worship leaders, adapting his music and his worship style to new congregations around the world.
Since graduating with a Ph.D. in 1997, Kenoly has been dubbed “The Professor of Praise.” He has won many awards for his music and his worship meetings, including being nominated five times for the GMA Dove Award for gospel music, and winning it once, for Welcome Home (1996). Kenoly has made guest appearances on The 700 Club, Trinity Broadcasting Network, Hour of Power, Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, and Benny Hinn’s This Is Your Day. Two of his albums and three of his live videos have hit “gold” status for sales, a remarkable achievement for Christian music recordings.
Jesus Is Alive, 1992.
Lift Him Up, 1993.
God Is Able, 1994.
Sing Out with One Voice, 1995.
Welcome Home, 1996.
High Places: The Best of Ron Kenoly, 1997.
We Offer Praises, 1999.
The Perfect Gift, 2001.
Dwell in the House, 2001.
Solo Para Ti, 2002.
(With Dick Bernal) Lifting Him Up, Word Publishing, 1996.
Sing Out with One Voice—Ron Kenoly Songbook, Hermann Luchterhand Verlag, 1995.
Synan, Vinson, Century of the Holy Spirit 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal, 1901-2001. Nelson Reference, 2001.
Wuthnow, Robert, All in Sync: How Music and Art Are Revitalizing American Religion, University of California Press, 2003.
Charisma Magazine, February 1994.
Washington Post, March 9, 1997; November 6, 2000, p. C8; November 9, 2000, p. M10; December 13, 2001, p. T26.
Exodus On-line, www.exodusnews.com/Business/BusinessO21.htm (May 7, 2004).
“Ron Kenoly,” Biography Resource Center, http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC (May 12, 2004).
Ron Kenoly Ministries, www.ronkenoly.org (May 7, 2004).