B I O G R A P H Y
Kaumakaiwa, a five-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winner, is the eldest son of Kekuhi Kanahele, the eldest grandchild of Pualani Kanaka‘ole, great grandson of Edith Kanahele Kanaka‘ole, and great-great grandson of Mary Keali‘ikekuewa.
Since birth, Kaumakaiwa has dedicated his life to his family's practice and passion - the art of hula. As a 15-year ‘olapa (dancer) of Hālau O Kekuhi, he has been able to experience all aspects of hula, oli, haku mele and choreography. These qualities are nurtured well within the family and the hālau. The past seven generations and beyond have been maintained within a traditional family lifestyle dedicated to hula and the Hawaiian culture.
As an ‘olapa of Hālau O Kekuhi, Kaumakaiwa has been involved with the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival since he was 12. He has also appeared on stage and in film productions such as Holo Mai Pele by the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation and Hālau O Kekuhi; Kamehameha Pai'ea; Kilohi: Nā Akua Wahine; and Hānau Ka Moku, a collaboration with the Tau Dance Theatre.
These staged productions have spanned some ten years of his life, and continue to advance with each new inspiration that hula has to offer.
In Spring 2003, Kaumakaiwa released his debut album, Ha'i Kupuna, which earned him his first Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Haku Mele category. This award—one that is revered by many in the Hawaiian community—is a prized honor, and is rarely given to someone so young.
Kaumakaiwa’s second album, Welo, was by no means a follow-up album or a sophomore release, but rather another verse to the greater mele, or song, with which he honors his kupuna. It garnered two Hōkū awards in 2006, for Hawaiian Language Performance and Hawaiian Album of the Year. Welo stood for the lineage from which Kaumakaiwa comes, the contemporary native Hawaiian that he is as a product of his environment, and the ancestral memory that he must pass to the generations of his family to come.
His third album, Kaumakaiwa, released in August 2008, though still another verse in that greater mele, is Kaumakaiwa’s affirmation that he has come into his own as a phenomenal world artist. With Kaumakaiwa, he finds himself setting the pace, raising the bar and pushing the standards—yet again—challenging not only himself but his contemporaries as well. At the 2009 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, Kaumakaiwa was honored in the Hawaiian Language Performance category and named Male Vocalist of the Year.
Accompanied by a passionate, unmatched love of his culture and the power that lies within his lineage, Kaumakaiwa is blazing a new trail in the 21st century while paying homage to those who have come before him, a theme that resonates with this, his third album.
Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole, only 27, is the voice of Hawai’i’s new generation.