Kerwin Young

Teresa Carreño Fellow


“Creating music, no matter the form or medium, has always been my youthful pastime; and I’ve been lucky to make a career doing it. You’ve got to be strong in this field; not settling for less, compromising your work or worth. The marriage between art and business is when the trouble starts, and I’ve learned early on that to make it in this field, you must persevere no matter what. Don’t get caught up in the madness of vogue techniques, copying a style made popular by someone else. Build your brand. Decode the games being played upon us by false-empowering systems, and don’t get discouraged when you or a work you’ve composed doesn’t receive recognition. Honor yourself and your work first. Choosing to become a composer doesn’t require anyone’s approval or acceptance; you merely start doing it. Be the composer you wish to be and write the music that you wish to hear.”

— Kerwin Young


Kerwin Young is a prolific international composer and recording producer, whose music has served as social commentary the world over since 1989. From Public Enemy to the Symphony, Kerwin Young has gone from member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Public Enemy to becoming a renowned orchestral composer of more than seven epic symphonies. His works have been performed by Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Music From China, Kansas City Symphony, Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, University City Symphony, and other well-known ensembles.

As a media composer, Young has composed for projects including the 1994 debut season of New York Undercover; the 1997 directorial debut of Goetz Grossman, Tar; KCPT's weekly news series Ruckus; and has composed and produced original songs for feature motion pictures such as Do The Right Thing (1989), Green Card (1990), Sister Act 2 (1992), and American Crime Story: The People Vs O.J. Simpson (2016).

Young studied music composition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance with Chen Yi, Zhou Long, and Jazz Messenger legend, Bobby Watson. In 2017, Young served in Egypt as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador for Hip-Hop, teaching music composition, music production, media scoring, and business.

For more information, please visit