Kuana has been involved in the music and hula scene of HIlo since he was 6 years old. He trained as a kane dancer under legendary Hilo kumu hula Johnny Lum Ho until the age of 13. Once he was discovered to have exceptional musical abilities he was pulled from the hula line and added as a permanent halau musician. Kuana’s photographic musical memory allowed the kumu to compose songs and have them recited later, as needed. It became a Hawaiian Music Boot Camp of sorts, training him in the classics of Hawaiian music and prepping him for what was to come as a professional musician.
In 1995, at 17, he and fellow Hilo native and falsetto musician, Kehau Tamure, laid the foundation for what emerged as of the most popular Hawaiian Music groups to date, NA PALAPALAI. They released “Makani ‘Olu’olu” in 2002 to meteoric success and raves from critics. Kuana’s original, “Ke Anu O Waimea” is still the most popular hula song in Japan to this day. Na Palapalai has continued to maintain it’s popularity 20 years and six albums later.
In 2011, he released his long awaited solo debut, KAUNALOA. It won every major award at that year’s Na Hoku Hanohano Awards including Album of the Year and Song of the Year. He was applauded for his songwriting abilities and contribution to Hawaiian music. His release was a welcome breath of fresh air in both style and content allowing for the creation of new hula from kumu all over the world. Subsequent blockbuster releases included his “HILO FOR THE HOLIDAYS” Christmas release which later won Christmas Album of the Year and 2013’s self-titled, “KAHELE“.
In 2012, he was asked to teach hula to a small group of Ni’ihauan women, based on mele he had written for the island. It has since blossomed into monthly visits for hula with Kuana teaching an official organized Ni’ihau halau, “Na Lei Lanakila O Ni’ihau“. He has had a long-standing relationship with the Ni’ihau ohana and has worked hard to raise visibility and revenue to their Lei Pupu or shell lei. He takes lei for sale on many of his trips, bringing 100% back to the lei maker. His passion and support have furthered the art and benefitted countless families in need of assistance.
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. He is one of the most popular entertainers performing in Hawaii and Japan. He performs and teaches cultural workshops all over the world.
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. 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.
vol. 1 HAWAII KEAWE (Hawaii Island) is in stores April 8th.
Vol. 2 KAHELELANI (Ni’ihau) in stores September 7, 2014.
Vol. 3 (Maui) April 7, 2015
Vol. 4 MANOOKALANIPO (Kaua’i) September 8, 2015
Vol. 5 MOLOKA’I NUI A HINA/LANA’IKAULA (Moloka’i/Lana’i) April 5, 2016
Vol. 6 (O’ahu) September 6, 2016
A mere 35 years old and quickly becoming a luminary in Hawaiian music, Kuana Torres Kahele bring us Volume 2 of his popular music series. The award winning composer, choreographer and musician takes us on a rare journey to The Forbidden Isle: Niihau.
Music for the Hawaiian Islands Vol. 2 – Kahelelani Niihau allows us access to newly recorded originals for the island from Kuana.
Available September 9, 2014!
01 Nani Niiihau (Chant)
02 Kaeo Hula
03 Ka Makualani
04 Aia I Niihau Kuu Pawehe
07 Lei Ana Niihau
08 Lehua Uila
09 Ka Pookela Ao Niihau
10 Niihau O Kaeokulani
11 Nani Niihau
12 Kaeo Hula (Chant)
This album contains a collection of original songs I have written that represent my life’s journey for the past 15 years. It speaks to the individuals that I have been fortunate to learn from and to love. It honors my lineage and the places from where my ‘ohana has come: the great valleys of Waipi’o and Waimanu, the last Hawaiian fishing village of Miloli’i.
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Mountain Apple Company • HAWAI’I
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Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
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