Page 15 - MidWeek - Feb 2, 2022
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   The good vibrations keep coming from taiko virtuoso Kenny Endo, who lives life marching to the beat of his own drum.
         Who else can say they’ve performed for Michael Jackson and Princess Diana, have a day proclaimed to them in Honolulu and, most recent- ly, be named to the United States Artists’ 2022 class of Fellows? None other than triple threat Kenny Endo, one of the world’s most pro- lific taiko performers, composers and teachers.
nonetheless. It was just last week when Endo was recognized next to 63 fellow artists across 10 creative disciplines, including architecture and design, dance, film, traditional arts, visual art and writing. The or- ganization at the helm of the project, United States Artists, puts an em- phasis on supporting a broad reg- ister of creative people — an effort even more pertinent now given that some artistic avenues, like Endo’s performing arts, have taken a back- seat due to the pandemic.
If he’s not performing taiko (above), then Kenny Endo (right) is teaching it, like in this photo (top right) that dates back to Taiko Center of the Pacific’s debut in 1994. PHOTOS COURTESY KENNY ENDO
               Those grand feats only brush the surface of all that Endo has accom- plished. And while the latter is only the most recent, it was an honor,
Long before his impressive list of accolades, though, Endo was just a boy in Los Angeles who was en- tranced by the beat of a drum.
 other musical genres including ja
  “When there were parades, I would always run down just to hear the cadence of the drums because I like that vibration,” he remembers.
about playing the drums and was even a member of his high school band and orchestra, but it wasn’t until he witnessed a performance by the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, which is the first kumi daiko (en- semble drumming) group to form outside of Japan, in 1973 that he had that “aha” moment, thinking, “This
is what I want to do with my life.” “When I saw taiko for the first time, it was the sound that you could feel down to your bones that pulled me in,” he recalls. “It was also part of my heritage that I want-
As he entered his teenage years, Endo would jam out to rock’ n’ roll — namely The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Cream — and became rapt by
ed to know more about.”
n funk and Latin. He was passion
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