Meet Tom Kennerk
Tom Kennerk, the Sax Man, was born and raised in Monroeville, Indiana. Tom was blessed with loving and encouraging parents, and had a wonderful childhood. A country boy, Tom was raised on a farm along with 2 brothers and a sister. He grew up with an aunt and uncle next door, grandparents 2 doors down, and was allowed to do all the things little boys did in those days growing up on a farm. As children, the Kennerk siblings were encouraged to excel, to dream, and be whatever they wanted to be.
From the beginning, music was a part of the Kennerk household. When very small, their mother would get out her accordion and play old songs by ear. Tom can remember how they would huddle around her on the floor and listen for what seemed like hours. This simple, extraordinary life proved to be a wonderful blessing for the children.
At the young age of 12, the Sax Man was introduced to the saxophone when his school started a band program. Not knowing anything about musical instruments, Tom was encouraged by his aunt to try the saxophone. By way of an old recording, his aunt introduced Tom to Mr. Boots Randolph, and from that moment on he was hooked on the saxophone. With money saved from doing odd jobs, Tom would buy Randolph’s latest albums and play them over and over again listening to how he made every note come to life.
When he first started playing, Tom was told he had to play alto sax because he wasn’t big enough to play the tenor sax. But that didn’t discourage Tom, even though he knew he really wanted to play the same instrument that Boot’s played. During the summer between his freshman and sophomore high school years, Tom saved enough money working for a local farmer to buy his first tenor sax, a Conn student model. What a thrill that was for Tom. He played that horn for 2 years and finally earned enough money hoeing beans and tomatoes during the summers to buy his dream saxophone, a Selmer Paris Mark VI, just like the instrument Boots Randolph played.
During his senior year of high school, Tom’s band director encouraged him to consider the United States Navy’s music program. So he auditioned and was accepted. Tom enlisted, and attended the Navy School of Music. The school was all about music of every kind, without limitations. Tom traveled and played all across the United States and all areas of the Pacific, playing in all venues of music from military to jazz, and show bands. What a thrill it was for a country kid from the little town of Monroeville, Indiana.
After the Navy, Tom realized a need for settling into a real job and vocation, so he went to school and earned a degree in Air Conditioning Technology. Air Conditioning was a long way from music, yet music was to remain so much a part of his life. Tom formed a dance band with his brother and sister, and friend who is now a brother-in-law. The group played dances and wedding receptions for about 10 years. In 1988, family responsibilities took over and the group disbanded.
For about ten years, playing the sax pretty much took a back seat in Tom’s life. Then, in 1998, he was asked to play at his church. It was then that Tom came to realize the music that was within him was not his at all. The passion Tom carried for his music, everything about his music, was a gift from God, and everything about his music belongs to the Creator. What Tom discovered, after all those years of playing, was it all belonged to God. Now, all aspects of Tom’s life revolves around freely giving back to his Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Tom has come to understand that he plays to God’s glory, and for the furthering of His kingdom.
In the Sax Man’s own words, “I’ve been incredibly blessed my whole life, especially in my music. This passion within me has been here for 44 yrs, and it just keeps getting stronger and stronger. As long as God will allow it, I have no plans to stop playing the saxophone. Even if this public ministry should come to an end, I will still keep on playing to the God I love and serve.”
Keep playing, Sax Man. For, your gift from God has become God's gift and blessing to so many. The gospel message of a loving God resonates in every note you play. So, continue to play to the glory of God, and play for our spiritual edification, as well. From those who’s lives you have touched with your beautiful music, you are loved and appreciated. Play on, Sax Man, play on.