AGE is a Gift – Karen Kitchen

AGE is honored to spotlight Karen Kitchen (Osage Nation), a vocalist, performer, song carrier, and storyteller.

Thank you for performing and sharing the poem, “For Calling The Spirit Back From Wandering The Earth In Its Human Feet” by Joy Harjo. It is from the book titled Conflict Resolution For Holy Beings. Joy Harjo is from the Muscogee Creek Nation in Oklahoma. She is the current Poet Laureate for 2019-2020, and the first Native American to have this honor. 

Karen sings in The Prairie Blossoms with vocalist and pianist Mel Kubik. The Prairie Blossoms use voices, hand drums and other percussion instruments and keyboards to spotlight the beauty and diversity of traditional and contemporary Native American music.

Karen’s musical theater credits include The Jim Pepper Project (Triangle Productions, 2014-2016), The Ghosts of Celilo (Jane, a Theater Company, Marv Ross Productions, 2005-06, 2007; 2011), and Sacagawea, (Oregon Children’s Theater, 2003). She also sings with Border Crossing, a trio with a unique repertoire that crosses borders of language, time, and genre while serving up international folk and jazz, blues, traditional country & western and Nueva Canción.

For over three decades she has worked in Indian Country, serving as the director of Portland Public Schools’ Title VI Indian Education Program, licensed teacher and administrator, student support specialist for American Indian and Alaskan Native students and presenter at national conferences.  Combining her knowledge or tribal history and diversity with her love of music, Karen provides presentations and performances to bring visibility, authenticity, and understanding of Native American histories and cultures to audiences of all ages. She enjoys performing and teaching Native children’s songs in school assemblies and classrooms. She is particularly fond of working with Pre-K and K students because they are so joyful and eager to learn and participate in the music. 

Recently, as part of Multnomah County Library’s 2020 Everybody Reads celebration, Karen delighted in telling traditional stories and reading some of her favorite children’s books to showcase Native writers at several libraries throughout the county. She welcomes collaborations with libraries, museums, organizations, and institutions to increase awareness of Native histories and contemporary lifeways through songs and stories.