Meet the 2019 Women and Taiko Fellowship Cohort

Please help us welcome four amazing women to the first-ever, pilot Step Up/Step Out Fellowship program: Jessie Gibbs (Narukami Taiko, Wellington, New Zealand), Natalie Hudson (Kaminari Taiko, Texas, USA), Eileen Ho (Raion Taiko/Great Lakes Taiko Center, Michigan, USA), and Lisa Shiota (Miyako Taiko, DC, USA)!

The Women and Taiko 7 month Fellowship Program was launched as a pilot in April 2019 as a part of the Women and Taiko Step Up/Step Out program. The focus of the program is to build the leadership capacity of women in the taiko community by providing a supportive platform to develop their unique artistic voice and skills.

Through a guided discovery process curated by Michelle Fujii and Karen Young, the cohort will reflect on their taiko journeys while tapping into a well of comprehensive professional development resources that include: developing a Community Learning Project (also known as their ‘stretch project’), monthly facilitated online meetings, and engagement with a series of guest presenters and mentors.

Stay tuned as the cohort develops their Community Learning Project. These projects will be presented at the Step Up/Step Out* 2 day professional development immediately following the North American Taiko Conference in Portland, OR in August, 2019.

* space still available

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Jessie Gibbs

Jessie Gibbs is a taiko performer and instructor from Wellington, New Zealand. Jessie first experienced taiko when studying at IPUNZ. She played with the university team Kodama for 3 years becoming their captain in her final year. After a year of teaching English in Japan and wanting to continue her taiko journey, she formed the community group Narukami Taiko. Jessie’s dream of unity, inclusiveness, and the desire to just play drums with friends has helped Narukami grow from just 9 members at conception in 2014 to over 60 members today. Narukami is a diverse team that encourages both individuality and acceptance.

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Eileen Ho

Eileen Ho is a taiko artist and instructor from Ann Arbor, MI. She is an original member of Raion Taiko (2009) and on the administrative and teaching staff at the Great Lakes Taiko Center in Southeast Michigan. Her interest in taiko was sparked in college while watching a Kodo concert with her husband. Years later they took their four kids to see taiko in Minnesota, igniting an exciting path from her first taiko class (2001) to her joyful experience as a performing member of Mu Daiko (2005-2009). Eileen strives to expand and deepen her musical expression while connecting with audiences and students through taiko.

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Natalie Hudson

Natalie Hudson is the Artistic Director of Kaminari Taiko in Houston, Texas, USA. Since 2008 she has performed across Texas and the Gulf South and created programs to reach new students and share free taiko performances with underserved audiences around Houston. Natalie trains students of all ages and leads a diverse ensemble of players in practice and performance. Her passion for vibrant, high-energy performance and her background in mathematics and teaching support her ongoing quest to develop fun, engaging methods for learning and teaching any taiko skill.

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Lisa Shiota

Lisa Shiota is one of the founding members of Miyako Taiko, a community group in Washington, DC, USA, having served in administrative, logistics, and artistic coordinator roles. She has also worked as stage manager and group liaison for the annual Sakura Taiko Takeover, an all-day event of performances, as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. She studies taiko with Mark H Rooney and has assisted teaching the Recreational Class in the Mark H Taiko School. Lisa has studied shinobue with Kaoru Watanabe, and performs as a soloist and with ensembles. When not playing taiko, Lisa can be found biking, cooking, or playing clarinet.