Born on the island of Maui, Na Hoku Hanohano winner Jeff Peterson grew up on Haleakala ̄ Ranch on the slopes of Haleakala ̄ where his father, a paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboy, introduced to him the rich heritage of Hawaiian music. Peterson was deeply impacted by his father’s music as well as the k ̄i ho ̄‘alu (slack key) he heard on recordings by the Gabby Pahinui Band, Leonard Kwan, and Sonny Chillingworth. He continues to draw inspiration from those memories today. After self-study in the guitar and various musical genres, Peterson further pursued his musical interests and studied jazz and classical guitar at the University of Southern California and at the University of Hawai‘i—Ma ̄noa. He has studied privately with a wide variety of artists including celebrated classical guitarist Benjamin Verdery, slack key guitarist Ozzie Kotani, as well as a number of jazz
guitarists including Joe Diorio, Larry Koonse, and Frank Vignola.