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One of Hawaii’s most popular artists, Kuana Torres Kahele is a composer, musician, dancer, educator and cultural ambassador from Hilo, Hawaii. Kuana creates and performs traditional Hawaiian music and dance. He possesses a commanding tenor singing voice with a velvety falsetto, and as a multi-instrumentalist, he performs with ukulele, guitar, ipu and bass.
Kuana gained worldwide notoriety in June 2015, starring as both the narrator and male lead, “Uku”, a lovesick volcano in Disney Pixar’s hit movie, Lava. Kuana’s theme song from Lava debuted at #1 on the Billboard Soundtrack chart and remained there for several months.
Kuana brings a unique style of high energy Hawaiian music to his live shows, incorporating both guitar and ukulele into the performance. Although he is known for his musicianship in his solo career and with his group, Na Palapalai, Kuana’s true contribution to Hawaiian culture and American music may be in his songwriting abilities. Fresh from completing his project of original music honoring the Hawaiian Islands, Kuana composed nearly one hundred songs included in seven CD’s intended to breath new life into both Hula and Hawaiian language. Kuana teaches that Hawaiian music is not truly realized until it is brought to life through hula. His show is bound to inspire and invigorate concert goers.
Kuana has twenty-five years of professional experience in hula and Hawaiian music. His hula roots begin with Kumu Johnny Lum Ho of Hālau Ka Ua Kani Lehua and continue today with several of his own hula and Hawaiian culture schools abroad. With the meteoric success of his band, Nā Palapalai, Kuana, with members Keao Costa and Kehau Tamure, helped to revitalize traditional Hawaiian music and give it a larger mainstream audience. Newly imagined and freshly arranged versions of Hawaiian classics catapulted the group’s popularity with radio listeners and Kumu hula alike.
Known for his original compositions for hula, Kuana recently undertook an unprecedented four-year songwriting project to complete an album of new, original music for each of the Hawaiian Islands. His first volume in the series, Music for the Hawaiian Islands, honored his island birthplace, Hawai’i Keawe. Subsequent volumes in the series, Ni’ihau, Maui, Kaua’i, Lana’i, Molokai have debuted at the top of the Billboard World Music chart. Upon completion, Kuana will have written and recorded over 100 new songs for Hawaii. This is a historic achievement in both Hawaiian music and American songwriting. The final installment, vol. 7 O’ahu released in spring, 2019.
Kuana teaches and performs continuously, taking Hawaiian music and Hawaiian culture workshops to the far reaches of the globe. His hope is to introduce others to the beauty and diversity of Hawaii and its people through music, hula and lei making.