Hawaiian culture often brings forth images of magnificent beaches, giant waves, and tropical drinks. However, other key elements of everything Hawaiian are its music, dance, and art. Hawaiian artist, Kuana Torres Kahele, has beautifully encapsulated the ancient dance and music of hula and, in a way, has served as an ambassador for Hawaiian culture and music.
Kuana’s first solo album, Kuanaloa, reached number two in the world music charts and he’s gone on to win numerous awards internationally. Kuana’s world recognition even led to him voicing a character in the Pixar film, Lava.
Kuana has been involved in the music and hula scene since he was very young—initially working in the dance scene. However, when discovered to have exceptional musical abilities, he was pulled from the hula line and placed as a permanent musician. At a young age, Kuana’s photographic muscle memory would allow him to compose songs and have them recited later quite easily.
In 1995, at the age of 17, Kuana first received international success when he paired with fellow musician, Kehau Tamure. Their work led to numerous releases, many which are still popular to this day and still serve as “hula standards”. They released “Makani ‘Olu’olu” in 2002 to huge success and rave reviews from critics.
In 2011, he released his long awaited solo debut, Kuanaloa, which even further solidified his status as not only a hula artist, but also an internationally respected musician.
Kuana currently maintains his own Hawaiian Music & Culture School in Japan. He teaches in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka with over 200 combined students. He offers courses in voice, haku mele, mele hula, fresh lei making, ukulele, and guitar.
In April of 2014, Kuana began releasing a six-part series entitled, Music For The Hawaiian Islands.
Each CD pays tribute to an individual island with original music from Kuana written specifically for hula. His poetry-laden lyrics illustrate the beauty of Hawaii while documenting everything from important place names to island winds and specific rains. By 2016, Kuana will have completed this momentous project, contributing almost 100 new songs for Hula in honor of Hawaii.
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