Young subsequently made the LP Karen Young (RCI 528) with Vancouver musicians in 1981. She led other groups during the 1980s - eg, All Smiles, the ethnic ensemble Young Latins and, with the violinist Helmut Lipsky, Unclassified - but it was her collaboration 1983-90 with the bassist Michel Donato that brought her notice as one of Canada's premier jazz singers. The duo, augmented on record and occasionally in concert by other musicians, appeared regularly at the FIJM (including a concert with their US counterparts Sheila Jordan and Harvie Swartz in 1990) and performed at jazz and folk festivals across Canada. Young and Donato toured four times 1987-90 in France and 1989-90 in the USA, and also appeared in 1989 in England. For Justin Time they recorded the albums Karen Young/Michel Donato (1985, JTR-8403), Contredanse (1988, JTR-8410), and Young/Donato en vol III (1990, JTR-8418, CD and cass). The second LP won a Félix Award in 1988 as jazz album of the year.
The duo's repertoire of jazz tunes, standard and original pop songs, arrangements of Bach, Bartók, and Magister Piero typified clearly Young's eclectic range of interests. She also has sung in church choirs (as a soprano), musical theatre (Angel in 1980, Mata Hari in 1984, both by Edward Knoll and David Rimmer), new music concerts (eg, Jean Derome's Confitures de Gagaku), and with the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal. She began teaching at the University of Montreal in 1988. A new Young trio, Triple Sens, completed by Norman Lachapelle (bass, keyboards) and Francine Martel (percussion), made its debut in 1991 at La Butte St-Jacques in Montreal and subsequently toured in Quebec.
Miller, Mark. 'A Quebec jazz figure,' CanComp, 174, Oct1982
Légaré, Félix. 'Karen Young & Michel Donato: unis vers l'uni,' Voir, 23-29 Mar 1989
Boogie, Pete & the Senator