Kawika's story begins in the small
town of Kane`ohe on the beautiful windward side of O`ahu. One
cannot think about the windward side without images of the breathtaking
Ko`olau mountain range, lush, green valleys and the magnificent
ocean views. Born to Samuel (Uncle Sam) and Josephine (Aunty
Jo) Kahiapo on February 13, 1960, Kawika is the 5th of 6 children.
Kawika's interest in music began at an early age, when, inspired
by his father, he spent many hours alone in his room "jamming";
he was known to miss chore-time, but never a meal! Some of his
fondest memories are of their "garage" jam sessions,
when "Pops" Gabby Pahinui would show up with his guitar
and bottle of vodka. This is what inspired Kawika's passion for
ki-ho`alu (slack-key guitar). Today, Kawika continues to perpetuate
the art of ki-ho`alu in his sound recordings and annually at
the Slack Key Festivals. He was honored as the 2007 Na Hoku Hanohano
Slack Key Artist of the year.
At the age of 17, Kawika entered the professional music
scene, joining Chucky Boy Chock and O`ahu Brand, then
Palani Vaughan. It was about that time that he married Laurie
Yano, who soon thereafter gave birth to their first son, Dalen.
Over the next couple of decades, Kawika contributed his musical
talent to some 30 recording projects and has collaborated or
performed with artists such as Kekolu, Leon and Malia, Kawehi
Lindsey, Jesse Rivera, Kapena, Pierre Grill, Na Leo Pilimehana,
Kelly Boy Delima, Del Beazley, Alex McAngus, and the Native Hawaiian
Band (Pahinui Brothers, Dennis Kamakahi, George Kuo, Mike Kaawa,
Milton Lau). As a studio musician, he has also offered his guitar
stylings to enhance jingles and theme songs for radio and television
ads. Not only was he keeping busy in the music scene, but he
also now has four more precious children: Shauna Lee, Jeremiah,
Keoni and Alana, along with daughter-in-law, Syndi, and son-in-law,
Kahai...not to mention his first grandchild, Seth "Nu'u".
In addition to releasing albums and performing in numerous
local venues, Kawika had the pleasure to contribute his
musical talent to one of Hawaii's most authentic and unique cultural
productions to enter the Hawaiian tourist marketplace. Released
in January, 2002, TourTalk-O`ahu
became O`ahu's "first audio driving tour".
When asked about why he participated in such a unique, niche
product he responded: "TourTalk's mission is to acquaint
the listener (both visitor and kama'aina) with Hawaii's rich,
cultural history, past and present. I am proud to be a contributor
to this production and to have worked with a team that is committed
to authenticity and being "pono" (right/_true) to our
Although a carpenter by trade, he is now an ordained Pastor
of a small "local-style" fellowship, which is his second
ohana, as its name indicates: "Ka Ohana o Ke Aloha"
(Family of aloha/grace). "Casual simplicity, filled with
aloha is who we are". It was on Kawika's heart to start
a fellowship where people are free to worship their Creator,
just as they are, bringing in their God-given treasures within
them and their cultures such as music, instruments, hula and
other forms of dance. To live and share aloha, calling all people
home through Jesus, is their mission statement.
Kawika is also on the Kokua Hawai'i Foundation board non-profit
organization that supports environmental education in the schools
and communities of Hawai'i. This is the reason many of you may
have seen Kawika emceeing the annual Kokua Hawai'i Festivals,
which features Jack Johnson. He also joins Jack on stage at some
point during the concert. This is one of the ways Kawika is able
to be a blessing to the community and our 'aina. http://www.kokuahawaiifoundation.org
Kawika is also a board member with the Friends of He'eia State
Park, which is a special place hidden away in Kane'ohe, where
his ancestors once lived. The purpose is to provide education,
conservation and preservation....truly another organization dedicated
to "malama 'aina".http://www.friendsofheeia.com/index.html
Other personal interests include drawing and painting, airbrushing,
surfing, and making Hawaiian crafts such as carved gourds and
pahu drums. His creative talents run through his hands in other
ways besides music.__Kawika's first solo recording project, "ALANA",
finally emerged in 1996 and continues to captivate many with
it's soothing combination of contemporary and traditional Hawaiian
tunes, along with ki-ho`alu. Throughout the years, many hula
halau have been dancing to the music on this recording, as well
as his second solo release, "ONE
HEART/ONE VOICE", which was released in 2001. Both projects
share his mana`o (feelings) in Kawika's unique way. In between,
he released a project with Del Beazley and Dwight Kanae, under
the name "3-D", entitled "In Living
Color." The notable feature in this recording is the
exceptional talent each of them has in guitar stylings, song-writing
and voice. His work on the "SLACK-KEY PRAISE" CD
with Leon Siu is appreciated by some of the best in the business.
The listeners of this recording will agree it is like receiving
a musical lomi-lomi (massage). The newest band that Kawika is
currently of member of is "Kaukahi".
This band also includes Barrett Awai, Walt Keale and Dean Wilhelm.
was also honored to receive three awards at the prestigious
2007 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. They were awarded Group
of the Year, Song of the Year for Kawika's "Life in These
Islands", which is the title cut and name of their debut
CD, and Kawika's son, Dalen Kahiapo, and Todd Schlosser of Worldsound,
were presented the Award for CD graphics!
Serving God and others are a priority, and is reflected in Kawika's
lifestyle and music. "Love for the islands, it's people,
`ohana, and Ke Akua (God), are what inspires him, while staying
committed to perpetuating "true" Hawaiian music, the
culture, and the the art of ki-ho`alu".