2023 MARCH 31- Blair, Nebraska’s very own Kirby Wendt has made a name for himself in the local music scene. His story is one of love, community, and the pursuit of dreams, making him a true inspiration to many. With a passion for music that began with the Beatles in 1964, Kirby got his first guitar at the age of 12 and never looked back.
Growing up in the close-knit community of Blair, Kirby learned the value of inclusivity and acceptance. “In school, we all seemed to get along, all the different groups. We were all inclusive and accepted each other. Made me feel accepted, and I was very outgoing,” says Kirby.
Kirby’s musical journey took a significant turn when he met John Housley, an accomplished guitar player who would become his teacher and mentor. John encouraged Kirby to never stop learning and suggested that he try writing music. In 2004, at the age of 55, Kirby wrote his first song, “On A Warm Night,” inspired by a date night with his soon-to-be wife, Daina. “He [John Housley] told me that you should never stop learning… That’s how he influenced me. Never stop learning, no matter how good you think you might be,” shares Kirby.
(John Housley is an artistic and talented classical guitarist who has been delighting and entertaining audiences both nationally and abroad for over thirty-five years. He has studied classical guitar and theory with professors at the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and the University of Omaha.)
Daina has been a constant source of support and inspiration for Kirby throughout their marriage. “I have written a lot of songs in the living room while my wife was watching TV but didn’t mind me strumming and singing. Some parts over and over again. Also, albums are expensive, and she let me pursue that with 11 albums completed,” says Kirby, expressing his gratitude for her support.
However, Kirby’s journey has not been without its challenges. Feeling frustrated and bored with playing cover songs, he sold his guitar and told his wife he was done with music. But life had other plans, and with John Housley’s encouragement, Kirby found his passion for music again.
Over the years, Kirby’s music has evolved, both in skill and depth. “You improve over time. Practice makes perfect, you know. I would say my last album ‘New Day’ is definitely my best. I have had some great songs along the way, but this whole album is good. A lot of constructive criticism along the way, which sometimes [is] hard to swallow, but was good for me,” says Kirby.
As a musician with strong Christian beliefs, Kirby has found a community of like-minded friends and musicians who share his faith. He has also written several love songs for his wife, as well as collaborated with a friend suffering from dementia to turn his poetry into music.
When asked what advice he would give to his younger self, Kirby emphasizes the importance of taking lessons and learning from others. “Take lessons. I pretty much have learned on my own but would be much farther along if I would have taken lessons,” he advises.
Today, Kirby Wendt continues to inspire others with his music and his story. His dedication to growth, love, and community has made him a cherished hometown musician, and his journey serves as a reminder that dreams are worth pursuing at any age.