Kuana Torres Kahele was born on the slopes of Mauna Kea in Hilo, Hawai’i. He began composing, arranging and playing traditional Hawaiian music at an early age.
Coming from an impressive lineage of musicians including Bill Ali’iloa Lincoln, Victor Kala, the Lim Family and George Holokai; Kuana seemed destined for a life of traditional Hawaiian music. He was inducted at 15 by renowned Kumu Johnny Lum Ho as one of his permanent musicians for Hālau Ka Ua Kani Lehua. Eighteen years later, Kuana still returns when needed to play for the Hilo halau.
In 1995 Kuana, with Këhau Tamure, formed the multi-award winning Nä Palapalai. The duo gained critical acclaim for reviving Hawaiian classics, as well as for their original, new compositions. From the meteoric rise of their debut CD, Makani ‘Olu’olu, the group has maintained a prominent presence in both the local and international hula and Hawaiian music scene. Although still young, their contribution to hula is significant. To this day, Kuana’s original, “Ke Anu O Waimea” is the most popular hula song in Japan, home to over 10,000 hula halau groups.
Still in his early 30′s, Kuana has over 15 years of professional experience in the industry. Fans know him for his incredible vocal range, while fellow musicians seek him out for his arranging, songwriting and producing abilities. Kuana continues to set the pace for talented, local musicians with a steady stream of strong, new compositions. Kuana has co-produced and arranged two consecutive Album of the Year winners: Kaunaloa and Lei Pua Kenikeni performed by Mark Yamanaka, and has garnered 13 new Nā Hōkū awards in just two years.
June 28, 2011, Kuana released his greatly anticipated solo CD, Kaunaloa. For Kuana, this was a project with songs that took a lifetime to create. He composed almost all of the 13 songs and Kaunaloa went on to win seven Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards in 2012 which tied Keali’i Reichel for the most ever from any Hawaiian artist. Kuana and the album Kaunaloa won: Album of the Year (Artist and producer), Song of the Year (“Na Vaqueros”), Male Vocalist of the Year, Hawaiian Album of the Year, Liner Notes and Graphics. The CD has continued to gain momentum and popularity long after it’s release with almost every song being choreographed for hula.
Kuana’s first holiday album is Hilo For The Holidays, taking us on a musical ride to his hometown with a delightful collection of 10 songs. His release is fresh with new originals in Hawaiian and English, a handful of classic Hawaiian religious mele and several classic Christmas songs given new sparkle with arrangements and lyrics from Kuana. Pack your bags and come away to Hilo for the Holidays!
In 2013, Kuana released his third album, Kahele. April 8, 2014 marks the birth of a 6 CD series from Kuana Torres Kahele entitled, Music for the Hawaiian Islands Vol. 1 HAWAI’I KEAWE. The first was followed by Music for the Hawaiian Islands Vol. 2 KAHELELANI NI`IHAU, Music for the Hawaiian Islands Vol. 3 PI`ILANI MAUI, and most recently Music for the Hawaiian Islands Vol. 4 MANOOKALANIPO KAUAI. Each CD pays tribute to an individual island with original music from Kuana, written specifically for hula. Never before have we seen such an extensive and thorough musical tribute to our islands. His poetry laden lyrics illustrate the beauty of Hawaii while documenting everything from important place names to island winds and specific rains. The legacy left by this collection will continue to prove it’s value for years to come as an inspiration for Hula and as a passionate documentation of all that we love about Hawaii. By 2016, Kuana will have completed this momentous project, contributing almost 100 new songs for Hula, in honor of Hawaii.