Hawaii is a hotbed of musical talent, and has given rise to some of the most acclaimed musicians and artists in the world. From Israel Kamakawiwo’ole to Bruno Mars, Don Ho, and Yvonne Elliman, the talents of Hawaii represent a rich and diverse musical heritage.
Here’s a list of the best musicians from Hawaii:
- 1. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
- 2. Jack Johnson
- 3. Ledward Kaapana
- 4. Bruno Mars
- 5. Don Ho
- 6. Yvonne Elliman
- 7. Moe Keale
- 8. James Mercer
- 9. Eddie Kamae
- 10. Alfred Apaka
- 11. Cecilio & Kapono
- 12. The Brothers Cazimero
- 13. Bette Midler
- 14. Larry Ching
- 15. Kealiʻi Reichel
- 16. Kalapana
- 17. Bob Shane
- 18. Ooklah The Moc
- 19. Sacred Rite
- 20. Ray Kinney
1. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, commonly known as “IZ,” is a famous Hawaiian singer and musician. He is best known for his rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”, which has appeared in different films and commercials.
His mellow voice and unique style of playing the ukulele has earned him a place in Hawaiian music history and a loyal fan base.
2. Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson is a singer-songwriter and surfer. He is famous for his acoustic and soft-rock music and his passion for being an environmentalist. His debut album “Brushfire Fairytales” became popular which reflected his love for music, making him a popular figure among soft rock fans.
3. Ledward Kaapana
Ledward Kaapana is a Hawaiian slack key guitarist and singer. He is known for his exceptional finger-picking style and his fondness of playing the ukulele. His ability to create intricate melodies and evoke emotion with his playing has made him a respected figure in the Hawaiian music community.
4. Bruno Mars
The singer behind the hit songs “Grenade,” “Just the Way You Are,” and “Finesse,” Bruno Mars is a Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and producer. He is famous for his soulful voice, catchy pop songs, and electrifying performances.
He is known to explore music in various genres, including R&B, funk, pop, rock, and reggae. With several hit songs and sold-out tours, Bruno Mars has established himself as one of the biggest names in contemporary pop music.
5. Don Ho
Don Ho was a Hawaiian crooner and entertainer who rose to fame in the 1960s. He was known for his charismatic stage presence and his unique blend of traditional Hawaiian music with pop standards. He became a cultural icon and a symbol of Hawaiian pride.
6. Yvonne Elliman
A singer from Hawaii who rose to fame in the 1970s, Yvonne Elliman is best known for her hit single “If I Can’t Have You”, which reached number one on the charts.
She also earned wide acclaim for her covers of the Bee Gees’ “Love Me” and Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger.” Her powerful voice and her ability to seamlessly blend pop, rock, and soul music have made her a beloved figure in the music industry.
7. Moe Keale
Moe Keale is a singer, ukulele player and actor who was known for his powerful voice and his great acting skills, in which he became popular because of his TV and film roles like the ‘Hawaii Five-O’.
He was the uncle of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole and had a major impact on Israel’s musical pursuits, serving as a primary influence.
8. James Mercer
James Mercer is the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of the indie rock band, The Shins. Also a member of a group called Broken Bells, James is famous for his distinct voice and his ability to create catchy and introspective songs. He also sang back vocals for the rock group Modest Mouse.
9. Eddie Kamae
Eddie Kamae is a Hawaiian singer, songwriter, and filmmaker who has been a major figure in Hawaiian music, being a founder member of the musical group Sons of Hawaii. He is famous for his virtuosity on the ukulele and his ability to preserve and promote traditional Hawaiian music and culture.
10. Alfred Apaka
Alfred Apaka was a Hawaiian singer who was known for his beautiful baritone voice and his ability to bring the essence of Hawaiian music to a wider audience. He performed and became a guest for several shows, including the Ed Sullivan show and the Hawaiian radio program ‘Hawaii Calls.’
11. Cecilio & Kapono
A musical duo that rose to fame in the 1970s, Cecilio & Kapono are famous for their smooth harmonies and their ability to blend traditional Hawaiian music with contemporary styles.
They have been acknowledged for their achievements in the music industry and were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts in 2009.
12. The Brothers Cazimero
The Brothers Cazimero are a musical duo that are famous for their ability to blend traditional Hawaiian music with contemporary elements, creating a unique sound that has earned them a dedicated following among fans of Hawaiian music.
They have won several awards and are widely regarded as one of the most influential duos in Hawaiian music.
13. Bette Midler
Bette Midler is a singer, actress, and comedian who is a multi-awardee for her immense talent. She has starred in films and musicals, and performed for millions of fans around the world which earned her several awards such as Tony awards, Grammys, Primetime Emmy Awards, and Academy Awards.
With the release of 14 studio albums and sales of over 30 million units worldwide, she has solidified her fame on a global scale.
14. Larry Ching
Dubbed as the ‘Chinese Frank Sinatra,’ Larry Ching is a singer at the Forbidden City in San Francisco but was born in Hawaii. He was loved for this sweet and smooth tenor voice in his performances.
15. Kealiʻi Reichel
Kealiʻi Reichel is a singer, songwriter, dancer, and chanter who has been a major figure in Hawaiian music. He is famous for his beautiful voice and his ability to preserve and promote traditional Hawaiian music and culture through his singing and dancing.
With several wins at the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards and a Grammy nomination for his album “Kawaiokalena,” he has established himself as a highly acclaimed musician.
Famous for their soft rock and folk-influenced pop rock songs, Kalapana has gained recognition for their exceptional music. The band has had the opportunity to perform as opening acts for renowned bands such as Earth, Wind & Fire and Cecilio & Kapono.
With several awards won in the state and worldwide tours, Kalapana has cemented their place in music history. Their songs “The Hurt” and “Naturally” have become iconic and have helped to establish their fame.
17. Bob Shane
Bob Shane is a folk singer and guitarist who was one of the founding members of the Kingston Trio. He is famous for his contributions to folk music, as well as his ability to entertain audiences with his engaging performances.
18. Ooklah The Moc
Ooklah The Moc is a popular roots reggae band in Hawaii. They are famous for their energetic live performances, their ability to blend traditional Hawaiian music with reggae.
19. Sacred Rite
Sacred Rite is a heavy metal band that was formed in the 1980s and is famous for being one of the first heavy metal bands to emerge from Hawaii. They are famous for their aggressive sound, powerful live performances, and their ability to bring a unique Hawaiian twist to heavy metal music.
20. Ray Kinney
As a singer, songwriter, and orchestra leader, Ray Kinney was renowned for his magnificent baritone voice and his mission to introduce Hawaiian music to a wider audience. He is widely recognized for his famous track “Across The Sea,” and also made guest appearances on the popular radio show “Hawaii Calls.”
Ray Kinney’s musical talent and contributions to the Hawaiian music scene have solidified his place in music history.
Hawaii is home to a diverse range of talented musicians and artists who have made their mark in the music industry. From soulful ballads to upbeat pop rock, Hawaiian musicians have captivated audiences worldwide with their Hawaiian-inspired sounds and unique musical styles.
Whether you’re a fan of traditional Hawaiian music, folk or contemporary pop, there is a musician from Hawaii that you will surely enjoy.
Israel Kamakawiwoʻole Featured Image (Top-Left) by: Fair use, Link
Bruno Mars Featured Image (Top-Right) by: slgckgc, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Jack Johnson Featured Image (Top-Left) by: Peter Chiapperino: a concert photographer in Lexington, Kentucky, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
Bette Midler Featured Image (Bottom-Right) by: Library of Congress Life, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons