The musical scene in Hawaii is a melting pot of exceptional talent, and the world has been fortunate enough to witness some of the most celebrated artists to ever grace the stage. The likes of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Bruno Mars, Don Ho, and Yvonne Elliman, are just a few of the many gifted musicians who have emerged from the rich and diverse musical heritage of Hawaii.
Let me share with you some of the finest musicians from Hawaii that you should definitely check out:
1. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, popularly known as “IZ,” was a renowned Hawaiian musician and singer. He gained widespread recognition for his beautiful interpretation of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”, a song that has been featured in various movies and advertisements.
With his soothing voice and distinctive ukulele-playing techniques, he has made a significant impact on the history of Hawaiian music, and has garnered a devoted following of fans.
2. Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson, a renowned singer-songwriter and surfer, has made a name for himself through his passion for music and the environment. His acoustic and soft-rock melodies have captured the hearts of many, and his debut album, “Brushfire Fairytales,” has become a fan favorite. Johnson’s love for music and his dedication to environmentalism have earned him a place among the most beloved figures in the soft rock genre.
3. Ledward Kaapana
Ledward Kaapana is a prominent slack key guitarist and singer who hails from Hawaii. His exceptional finger-picking style sets him apart from the rest, and he also has a fondness for playing the ukulele. His ability to create intricate melodies and evoke emotions through his playing has earned him a great deal of respect in the Hawaiian music community.
4. Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars, a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and producer, is the mastermind behind chart-topping hits like “Grenade,” “Just the Way You Are,” and “Finesse.” Known for his soulful voice, infectious pop tracks, and electrifying stage presence, he has carved a niche for himself in the music industry.
Bruno Mars is renowned for his ability to experiment with different music genres, including R&B, funk, pop, rock, and reggae. Thanks to his numerous chart-topping tracks and sold-out tours, he has cemented his position as one of the most prominent figures in the modern pop music scene.
5. Don Ho
In the 1960s, Don Ho gained immense popularity as a Hawaiian singer and entertainer. He was renowned for his captivating performances and his ability to seamlessly blend traditional Hawaiian melodies with pop classics. His stage presence was magnetic, and his music became a symbol of Hawaiian culture and pride. Don Ho’s legacy as a cultural icon lives on, even today.
6. Yvonne Elliman
Yvonne Elliman, a Hawaiian singer, gained stardom during the 1970s with her captivating voice. Her most popular track, “If I Can’t Have You,” claimed the top spot on music charts and continues to be a fan favorite.
Her renditions of the Bee Gees’ “Love Me” and Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger” gained her immense recognition. Her mesmerizing vocals and exceptional talent to merge different genres like pop, rock, and soul have made her an endearing personality in the music world.
7. Moe Keale
Moe Keale was a renowned singer, skilled ukulele player, and talented actor who gained immense fame for his captivating performances on both the small and big screens. He was widely appreciated for his powerful voice and excellent acting skills, which shone through his notable roles in TV shows and movies such as ‘Hawaii Five-O’.
Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s musical pursuits were greatly influenced by his uncle, who played a significant role in his life. As a result of his uncle’s guidance, Israel went on to become a celebrated musician himself, leaving behind an enduring legacy.
8. James Mercer
James Mercer, known for his unique voice, is a prominent member of the indie rock band, The Shins. He is not only a lead singer but also a guitarist and songwriter. Additionally, he is part of a music collaboration called Broken Bells. James has a remarkable talent for creating introspective and memorable songs. He has also contributed his vocal skills to the rock group Modest Mouse.
9. Eddie Kamae
Eddie Kamae is an acclaimed Hawaiian musician, songwriter, and filmmaker, who has contributed significantly to the Hawaiian music scene. As a founding member of Sons of Hawaii, he has established himself as a prominent figure in the industry. Known for his exceptional skills on the ukulele, Eddie has also played a vital role in preserving and promoting the traditional Hawaiian music and culture.
10. Alfred Apaka
Alfred Apaka was a renowned Hawaiian singer, celebrated for his captivating baritone voice and his exceptional talent in showcasing the heart and soul of Hawaiian music to a vast audience. His incredible performances earned him numerous invitations as a guest on various shows, including the famous Ed Sullivan show and the beloved Hawaiian radio program, ‘Hawaii Calls.’
11. Cecilio & Kapono
Cecilio & Kapono, the celebrated musical duo who attained stardom during the 1970s, are renowned for their flawless harmonies and the unique blend of traditional Hawaiian tunes with modern genres. Their music is a perfect amalgamation of cultural and contemporary influences.
In 2009, the Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts recognized their remarkable contributions to the music industry and granted them the Lifetime Achievement Award. This is a testament to their exceptional achievements and talent in the field of music.
12. The Brothers Cazimero
The Brothers Cazimero are a well-known musical duo praised for their exceptional talent in seamlessly mixing traditional Hawaiian music with modern-day elements, resulting in a distinct sound that has captured the hearts of many Hawaiian music enthusiasts.
With several accolades under their belt, this dynamic duo is highly respected and considered to be a significant force in the world of Hawaiian music.
13. Bette Midler
Bette Midler is an accomplished singer, actress, and comedian who has captivated audiences with her immense talent. She has graced both the big and small screens, as well as the stage, and has garnered multiple accolades for her performances. Her impressive body of work has earned her numerous awards including Tony awards, Grammys, Primetime Emmy Awards, and Academy Awards. It’s safe to say that Bette Midler is a true icon in the entertainment industry.
Her fame has reached new heights on a global scale, thanks to the release of her 14 studio albums and impressive sales of over 30 million units worldwide.
14. Larry Ching
Larry Ching, also known as the ‘Chinese Frank Sinatra,’ was a renowned singer at the Forbidden City in San Francisco. Although he was born in Hawaii, he gained immense popularity for his sweet and smooth tenor voice during his performances. His exceptional talent and remarkable singing skills made him a well-loved figure in the music industry.
15. Kealiʻi Reichel
Kealiʻi Reichel is a renowned Hawaiian singer, songwriter, dancer, and chanter, widely recognized for his melodious voice and his commitment to preserving traditional Hawaiian music and culture through his art. His contributions to the world of Hawaiian music have been truly remarkable, and he continues to be a major figure in the industry.
He has made a name for himself as a celebrated musician, with numerous victories at the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards and even a Grammy nomination for his album titled “Kawaiokalena”.
Kalapana has become famous for their unique blend of soft rock and folk-influenced pop rock songs, which have garnered them widespread recognition. The band has even had the honor of performing as opening acts for legendary groups like Earth, Wind & Fire and Cecilio & Kapono.
Kalapana has made a name for itself in the music industry by winning various awards in the state and embarking on worldwide tours. The band’s hit songs, including “The Hurt” and “Naturally,” have become timeless classics and have played a pivotal role in their success and reputation.
17. Bob Shane
Bob Shane, a legendary folk singer and guitarist, played a pivotal role in the formation of the Kingston Trio. His notable contributions to the folk music genre and captivating performances have earned him a well-deserved reputation as one of the most talented musicians of his time.
18. Ooklah The Moc
Ooklah The Moc is a well-known roots reggae band based in Hawaii. Their live performances are renowned for their high energy and infectious vibe, which is a perfect blend of traditional Hawaiian music and reggae.
19. The Sacred Rite
Sacred Rite is a heavy metal band that originated in the 1980s and is renowned for being among the first heavy metal bands to come out of Hawaii. Their music packs a punch with its fierce sound and dynamic live shows. What sets them apart is their ability to infuse heavy metal music with a distinctive Hawaiian flavor.
20. Ray Kinney
Ray Kinney was a prominent figure in the music industry, known for his exceptional skills as a singer, songwriter, and orchestra leader. His rich baritone voice was admired by many and he was determined to promote Hawaiian music to a broader audience. He gained recognition for his hit song “Across The Sea” and was a frequent guest on the well-known radio program “Hawaii Calls.”
Ray Kinney has undoubtedly made a significant impact on the Hawaiian music scene, leaving behind a lasting legacy. His impressive musical abilities and invaluable contributions have earned him a place in the annals of music history.
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