The sustained success and annual excitement surrounding Oshkosh’s Lifest comes at no surprise to Danen Kane.
Music holds a profound place in people’s lives, said Kane, a touring Christian artist who lives in Appleton.
“Faith, I think, speaks to humanity’s longing for purpose and to connect with something bigger than they can see,” Kane said. “It’s a place where two major things can merge together in a very meaningful way.”
Lifest, one of the nation’s largest Christian music festivals, opened Thursday at Oshkosh’s Sunnyview Expo Center.
Christian music is a genre at home in Wisconsin, which has produced top talent and enthusiastic audiences. Featured Lifest performers Danny Gokey and Skillet each hail from the Dairyland.
And it’s where Kane found his calling.
He credits Lifest for many of the successes the genre has had here “in inspiring people of the Christian faith to do something with their art that serves a greater purpose.”
The festival was influential as Kane’s purpose emerged.
He’ll perform Friday at 5:15 p.m. at Lifest’s Cafe Stage. Having played festivals across the country, he said there’s something special about playing at one of the biggest — and right in his own backyard.
Kane’s homecoming will include performances at Appleton’s Mile of Music festival.
It’s been a fascinating journey for a musician who didn’t pick up the guitar until college.
Kane developed his musical chops at open mic nights, most notably at Green Bay’s Cup O Joy.
He’s been touring full time for about 15 years. Today, he’s playing 150 to 200 shows across the country each year and has had some international dates. He has a new album that’ll be released in fall.
He views music as a tool — a vehicle of communication that touches people at a deeper level than other means. His goals go beyond the well crafted song.
“It’s about connecting at a real, human level,” he said. “To remind people they’re valued, loved; that they matter.”
Music is his career and craft, though Kane’s aspirations don’t lie in ticket sales, venue sizes or chart listings.
“What drives me is how if affects people,” Kane said. “To hear from people who tell you how it got them through difficulties … when you look people in the eyes and you can see they were profoundly impacted by what you created — there’s nothing else like that.”