Kenny Endo

He // Him // His

[ID: Portrait of a man standing in front of an odaiko. The drum fills the right half of the image, and the man rests his head and back on the instrument. His distinguished short, grey hair is pushed upward by a brown headband. His muscular arms rest at his midriff and hold two wooden mallets.]

Taiko Artist
Honolulu, HI
2022 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett.

Kenny Endo, a leading persona in contemporary percussion and rhythm, is at the vanguard of the taiko genre, continuing to carve new territory in this Japanese style of drumming. As a performer, composer, and teacher of taiko, Endo has received numerous awards and accolades, including very special recognition in Japan, where he was the first foreigner to be honored with a natori stage name in Japanese classical drumming.

He was a featured artist on the PBS special “Spirit of Taiko” in 2005. He has performed for such musicians as the late Michael Jackson and Prince, opened for The Who, performed a duet with singer Bobby McFerrin, and is featured on the soundtracks for Kayo Hatta’s film Picture Bride and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now; he also contributed work to James Cameron’s Avatar. He has been recognized by the mayor of Honolulu, who named a day in his honor (Kenny Endo Day), and the National Endowment for the Arts.

He is a consummate artist, blending Japanese taiko with original melodies and rhythms. Endo is known for his collaborations with artists from around the world.

Portrait photo by Toyo Miyatake Studios.