Karen Young w/Micah Rose & Mel Taing

Japanese Taiko Drumming

Karen Young is a cultural organizer, taiko player, and teaching artist based in Boston. Influenced by Japanese-American taiko activists of the 70s, Karen combines taiko and creativity with community organizing strategies to empower, engage, and inspire people into action. Her personal story of disenfranchisement compelled her to find her own voice and use it to help others find theirs. In her decades-long work as a community builder and performer, Karen’s approach to taiko inspires marginalized populations to reclaim voice, culture, power, and a sense of belonging.


As a 2018 Boston Artist in Residence, Karen launched Older and Bolder, a project intersecting the arts and public policy, centering the voice of elders from BCYF Grove Hall Senior Center where her work continues today. Karen is also a Live Arts Boston awardee, 2019-2021 Boston Neighborhood Fellow, 2021 Brother Thomas Fellow, and an advisory group member of the public arts re-granting program, Radical Imagination for Racial Justice. Through her projects Karen is committed to preserving and growing a vibrant, diverse arts ecosystem in Boston.


Karen trained and performed as an original member of Odaiko New England under the founder Elaine Fong, then artistic director Mark Rooney from 1994-2009. She then founded the Asian women’s group, The Genki Spark in 2010 where she facilitated 40-60 performances annually through 2019. Karen is also the co-founder of the Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival, serves on the Advisory Council of TCA (Taiko Community Alliance), and has been an active leader building the North American Taiko Community since 1997. For more info visit: www.karensusanyoung.com

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Karen Young w/Micah Rose & Mel Taing