Kainani Kahaunaele was raised by her grandparents in the rural community of Anahola, Kauaʻi surrounded by four generations of musical talent. Her love for Hawaiian music was infused at an early age, playing ʻukulele and harmonizing with her Kahaunaele, Pānui and Kaluahine families. Whether in church, on stage with the Kapaʻa High School Show Choir, at the backyard jam, or at the lūʻau, she was unknowingly in training as she was destined to share the music of her ancestors, her culture, and practices with a more global audience.
While earning her B.A in Hawaiian Studies with an emphasis in Hawaiian language at UH Hilo, this talented songstress started singing professionally and composing tradtional songs (haku mele) as Hawaiian language curriculum for ʻAha Pūnana Leo (a pioneering Hawaiian language revitalization program) that encouraged and promoted the documentation of our history through mele while also earning several Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards along the way.
They also produced her debut cd of original mele “Naʻu ʻOe” that garnered three Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards in 2004 for Most Promising Artist, Hawaiian Language Performance, and the highly coveted Female Vocalist of the Year that established Kainani as one of the most notable talents of her generation.
Kainani’s proficiency in haku mele attracted many renown artists such as Weldon Kekauoha, Aaron Salā, and Nā Leo to record her original mele while numerous hālau hula have danced her songs around the world. She has also recorded with many artists from Hawaiʻi including Kaumakaʻiwa Kanakaʻole, Kekuhi Kanahele and Shilo Pā. Also known for her warm dynamic vocal abilities, Kainani’s charming voice amplifies the imagery of the songs, enabling delightful encounters with the poetry she delivers.
In her latest cd release “ʻŌhai ʻUla”, Kainani and her Wish List Band team up with award winning producer Shawn Pimental and engineer Michael Grande to present an impressive collection of new original mele that depict ancestral practices, honor genealogies and storied locales, reveal deep romances, and offer up some traditional and contemporary musical styles sure to please any music lover.