Author, Speaker, Educator & Musician
“My mother is a poet and social worker—she is a healer of souls. My father is a developmental pediatrician and neonatologist who has saved thousands of lives—he is a healer of bodies,” says Kent Gustavson. It’s a wondrous pedigree, and the altruistic spirit and dedication inherited from his parents imbues and unifies his life’s work as an author, speaker, educator, and musician. “Every project requires a certain amount of soul,” Gustavson explains. “Putting a piece of yourself in there is where quality lies.”
Gustavson is highly regarded for his meticulously researched and vibrantly written Blind But Now I See—the definitive biography of one of American music’s most treasured artists, Doc Watson. The acclaimed book was culled from over 100 interviews conducted over 6 years with modern music’s most celebrated and respected stars. Vintage Guitar Magazine praised the book as: “A touching story about overcoming life’s obstacles.” It is a winner of a Next Generation Indie Book Award, and finalist in the Foreword Book of the Year Awards. The book has sold 5,000 paperbacks and 25,000 e-books and is now available in its expanded second printing, with a third and even more expansive edition already in the works.
Within the publishing community he remains a beacon of support and inspiration for his fellow authors. He’s coached hundreds of authors to finish books. He runs Blooming Twig Books, whose company’s tagline is “books that matter,” a successful indie publishing company that has published over 250 books in 9 years. His authors range from military generals to former homeless people, as long as they are “books that matter.”
Gustavson has garnered a national profile as an in-demand public speaker, authoritatively speaking on a myriad of music related topics, as well as independent publishing, executive coaching, motivational speaking, and social media education. His wisdom, grace, and eloquence make his speaking engagements empowering and enlightening.
Parallel to his work as an author and public speaker, Gustavson is an esteemed educator. For over ten years he taught at Stony Brook University in New York, conducting classes on leadership, writing, literature, music and German. His warmth and sincerity touched the lives of thousands of students. He continues to enjoy the rewards and challenges of teaching.
Much of Gustavson’s output is tied to his foundational identity as a musician. “I know my creativity in writing comes a 100% from my training in music,” he says. He’s an active musician and producer with 14 critically acclaimed albums. His music has been featured on National Public Radio’s All Songs Considered. He plays upright bass, piano, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and ‘ud. As a composer, his sweetly uplifting liturgical music and hymns are played in hundreds of Lutheran churches around the country, and thousands worship with them each year. He’s also a classical composer and several ensembles have premiered his work, from solo artists to orchestras. “I’m a child of two people who have changed the world in every way they knew how—and I inherited that,” Gustavson reflects. “I have always wanted to change people’s lives, whether it’s students, CEOs, authors, musicians. I’m doing what I can to improve the world around me with what I’ve got.”
May 11th - 6:30pm - Bellco Theater - Worship