Kuana Torres Kahele
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About Kuana Torres Kahele
Singer, composer, guitarist and educator Kuana Torres Kahele is one of Hawaiian music's most popular artists. With a style steeped in everything from hula and traditional folk music to jazz and swing to country and western, his smooth tenor voice (and silky falsetto), and call and response choruses inhabit his weave of traditional and modern instruments, Kahele has forged his own path through Hawaii's musical history -- particularly in hula music -- coming up with a sound distinctly his own.
Kahele began studying music in Hilo on the Island of Hawaii, learning to play traditional instruments including ukulele ipu, bass, and standard acoustic guitar as well as some slack key. He began writing his own songs and developing highly original arrangements for traditional songs. He also learned to dance kane and mele, creating a distinctive performing identity.
In 1995, Kahele co-founded Nā Palapalai, a trad-pop Hawaiian music group. Between 1999 and 2012, they released seven albums, several of which charted in the Top Five on the World Albums chart; they also won numerous Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards at home, including Group of the Year. Kahele's initial solo album, 2011's Kaunaloa, was recorded while he was still a member of Palapalai. He left in 2012 and issued his internationally recognized Hilo for the Holidays. A year later, he showcased the more contemporary side of his writing on Kahele, a collection of original songs that highlighted his imaginative arrangements utilizing a wide variety of instruments. The album was celebrated by critics from his home island across the globe to Europe, South America, and Asia. In 2014, Kahele began his seven-album project which contained original songs based on Hawaii's seven islands with Music for the Hawaiian Islands, Vol. 1: Hawai'i Keawe (Hawai'i Island) and followed it in 2015 with three more: Music for the Hawaiian Islands, Vol. 2: Kahelelani (Ni'ihau), Vol. 3: Pi'ilani Maui (Maui), and Vol. 4: Manookalanipo (Kaua'i). Each recording gained more acclaim than the one before it.
So vast was Kahele's reputation, he was selected to play the character of Uku, a lovesick volcano, in Disney Pixar's hit movie Lava. Kahele's title theme for the film debuted at number one on the soundtrack chart and remained there for months. In 2016, Music for the Hawaiian Islands, Vol.5: Lana'ikaula (Lana'i) arrived and reached the Top Ten of the world music charts. A year later, Music for the Hawaiian Islands, Vol. 6: 'Aina Momona (Molokai) arrived with similar fanfare. As a result of the impact of these recordings, Kahele toured numerous nations from Russia to Egypt to Spain and Iceland. He has performed on every continent. The final volume in the series, Music for the Hawaiian Islands, Vol. 7: (Oahu) is scheduled for 2018. Upon completion, Kahele's project will comprise more than 100 original songs. ~ Thom Jurek
- Sep 7, 1978