You can learn so much about a place by listening to their music. And it has the power to transport you through the melodies. Keep scrolling to find out my top Hawaiian musical artists you need to add to your Spotify list!

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Every generation brings a new group of talented Hawaii musicians. These elite teams of talented artists are keeping the traditions of Hawaiian music alive by drawing inspiration from their native home.

Using ukuleles and slack-key guitars, these geniuses have managed to balance their heritage while adding a contemporary spin to their music.

So, here’s a list of a couple of Hawaiian musical artists you need to add to your Spotify list right now.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids

15 Hawaiian Musical Artists You NEED to Know About

1. Mākaha Sons of Niʻihau

With more than 40 years of traditional Hawaiian music under their belt, the Mākaha Sons of Niʻihau have perpetuated the Hawaiian culture through the alluring harmonies and enchanting melodies of their magical songs.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau

The group was formed in 1976 on the island of Oahu by Jerome Koko, Louis “Moon” Kauakahi, Skippy Kamakawiwoʻole, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, and Sam Gray.

According to their site, their music “is a blend of melodic intricacies, syrupy boldness of harmonies, and of vibrant musical Hawaiian storytelling.”

If you’re just getting into the Hawaiian music scene, I highly recommend checking them out first.

They do a lot of traditional Hawaiian songs like “Papalina Lahilahi” and “Hali’ilua.” And they even do some Hapa Haole songs (mix of English and Hawaiian) like “Little Brown Gal” and “My Yellow Ginger Lei.”

Check out Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau on Spotify or on Amazon

2. And if You Enjoyed The Mākaha Sons, Then You’ll Love Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

In 1976, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and his friend Jerome “John” Koko formed the five-member band, the Mākaha Sons of Niʻihau. But in 1993, he decided to go solo by releasing his first album called “Facing Future.”

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Kamakawiwo'ole

By 2005, the album became the first Hawaiian music album to go platinum, selling over a million copies. His type of music included the use of the ukulele while adding other genres like reggae and jazz to his music.

Even if you think you’ve never heard his music, chances are you have. He’s the guy behind the famous “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” song that was featured in ER, 50 First Dates, Meet Joe Black, and so many more TV shows and movies.

And although he passed away in 1997, his melodic music will go on forever. He’s still one of the most famous Hawaiian musicians.

Check out Israel Kamakawiwo’ole on Spotify or Amazon

3. Keauhou

Much like the Mākaha Sons of Niʻihau, Keauhou focuses on traditional composition and multilayered harmonies.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Keauhou

The three 20-something band members composes songs that they believe will preserve their music, culture, language, and heritage while also inspiring future generations of Hawaiians.

Each of them graduated from the prestigious Kamehameha School and then earned masters degrees from the University of Hawaii.

In 2017, Keauhou won 9 Na Hoku Hanohano awards for their debut album “Keauhou.” Their second album “I Ke Ko A Ke Au” won 5 Na Hoku Hanohano awards. And their third album “Ua Ko, Ua Aina” won 3 Na Hoku Hanohano awards.

Check out Keauhou on Spotify or Amazon

4. Kimié Kauikeolani Miner

Kimié Kauikeolani Miner, known professionally as Kimie, uses her voice, her guitar, and her ukulele to compose reggae and folk-style music, but with a Hawaiian mix to it.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids - https://hawaiitravelwithkids.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/9154t6hcxL._SS500.jpg

She started writing songs and taught herself how to play the guitar when she was just 14 and in 2019 earned her first Grammy nomination for the compilation album “Hawaiian Lullaby.” This album is a great baby shower gift!

She also runs the Haku Collective, a music and talent production group that focuses on shining a light on emerging Hawaiian musical artists. 

Check out Kimie on Spotify or Amazon

5. Taimane Gardner

Taimane Gardner never experienced stage fright. Not even when she was at a ballet recital at age 4. Eventually, she took an interest in music and decided to start playing classical music that had never been played on a ukulele.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids.- https://hawaiitravelwithkids.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/71jfC1-uBIL._SS500.jpg

In 2015, she self-produced an album called “We are Made of Stars” with songs devoted to the planets.

Her Spotify list is a total must have if you love Hawaiian music but you’re ready for something new.

Check out Taimane Gardner on Spotify or Amazon

6. Kalapana

Kalapana is a pop band from Honolulu, Hawaii, that began in 1974. Their music genre includes soft rock, folk rock, and rock and roll. They are famous for hit songs like “The Hurt” and “Naturally.”

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids - https://hawaiitravelwithkids.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/81LxgY0NhnL._SS500.jpg

Over the years, members have come and gone, but the spirit of this band is still very much alive.

Many current musicians have taken inspiration from Kalapana, so it’s always nice to hear the original first. Plus, retro music never really goes out of style, right?

Check out Kalapana on Spotify or Amazon

7. Ledward Kaapana

Ledward Kaapana grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii without television or electricity. So, his entertainment came from his family and neighbors who played live music in the backyard.

And that’s how Kaapana learned the art of playing the slack-key guitar and art composition.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids - https://hawaiitravelwithkids.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/81D1uhkVhVL._SS500.jpg

Eventually, his twin brother Ned and Cousin Dennis Pavao formed the musical group, Hui Ohana and released their first album in 1973.

And even now, his skills with the slack-key guitar, baritone, and devotion to the culture that inspired his music has made him a true legend.

Check out Ledward Kaapana on Spotify or Amazon

8. Kalani Pe’a

Kalani Pe’a had a vision, which was to serve his community through the composition of beautiful Hawaiian music.

But his mother already knew he was a star when she saw him singing to a store mannequin in a soft, sentimental manner, so she enrolled him in singing lessons, which ultimately paid off.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids - https://hawaiitravelwithkids.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/719hvzf6M9L._SS500.jpg

He won a Grammy for his debut album “E Walea,” which features seven original Hawaiian language compositions and claims he did this album to give people a piece of his Hawaiian identity.

Lose yourself in Kalani Pe’a’s soothing and whimsical world. 

Check out Kalani Pe’a on Spotify or Amazon

9. Keali’i Reichel

Keali’i Reichel blends traditional Hawaiian chanting with contemporary Hawaiian music. His first album, “Kawaipunahele,” came out in 1994 and helped him win five Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids - Kamahiwa: The Keali'i Reichel Collection

He has also performed at sold out concerts in Honolulu (and all over the world.) And he’s even founded Halau Ke’alaokamaile, a hula school in 1980, to continue practicing the Hawaiian language which was his inspiration for pursuing music.

You’ll hear his music on the radio as well as see hula dancers perform to his music all across Hawaii.

Fun Fact: This Hawaii singer was also featured in an episode of Hawaii Five-O!

Check out Keali’i Reichel on Spotify or Amazon

10. Willie K

Willie Kahaialli’i or Willie K as he was known in the music world, began his music career by performing in his dad’s band.

TBest Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids- Willie K he Uncle In Me Volume 1

But when he became a singer and songwriter, he decided to immerse himself in various genres like Hawaiian, jazz, country and opera as opposed to limiting himself to one specific type of music.

His level of versatility allowed him to stay on top of the musical scene while maintaining a tether to the traditional music he grew up listening to.

Willie K is a must-have on everyone’s Spotify list!

Check out Willie K on Spotify or Amazon

11. Anuhea

Anuhea Jenkins is a mom, a wife, a vlogger, and oh yes! And an award-winning singer and songwriter from Hawaii.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids - A10: Best of Anuhea

Her style of music merges pop, reggae, and R&B. She claims to draw inspiration from music legends like Jason Mraz and Bob Marley to create her own blend of soul and Hawaiian music.

Her self-titled album came out in 2009 and earned her two Na Hoku Hanohano Awards for Most Promising Artist and Album of the Year. And she even made it to number two on the Billboard Charts Top World Albums.

Check out Anuhea on Spotify or Amazon

12. Blayne Asing

The very talented guitar-player, Blayne Asing loves to write about the things he experiences in everyday life. So essentially, his lyrics comes from living on the island experiencing what Molokai has to offer.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Blayne Asing Young, Old Soul

His first album, “Young, Old Soul” earned him a Na Hoku Hanohano Award in 2016 for promising artist of the year.

His greatest musical inspirations are the late Hawaiian musician Ernie Cruz Jr., and other artists like James Taylor. After listening to his songs, you’ll quickly understand why so many folks think he’s already a legend.

Check out Blayne Asing on Spotify or Amazon

13. Jake Shimabukuro

When you think of Hawaiian music, you probably instantly envision an ukulele. Jake Shimabukuro is a world-renowned ukulele master.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Jake Shimabukuro Peace Love Ukulele

Someone posted a video of him performing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on YouTube back in 2006 and it became one of YouTube’s first viral videos. Yes, I remember watching it!

That launched his musical career and he now tours all over the world mesmerizing audiences everywhere.

He also did all the music for the Japanese film “Hula Girls,” which is an excellent film about how hula dancing saves a Japanese mining town.

Check out Jake Shimabukuro on Spotify or Amazon

14. Amy Hanaiali’i

Another incredible Hawaiian musical artist is Amy Hanaiali’i. She’s been nominated for 6 Grammy awards and she’s won 18 Na Hoku Hanohano awards.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Amy Hanaiali'i Palehua

She records a lot of versions of traditional Hawaiian songs as well as original music. Her music speaks to people of all generations.

In fact, Amy Hanaiali’i has played for the Dalai Lama, two inaugural balls in D.C. for President Obama and she was the first entertainer ever to perform in the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square, China.

She’s also played for sold-out crowds in Europe, Japan and all across America and French Polynesia.

It’s no wonder that she’s Hawaii’s top-selling female vocalist of all time and has recorded many famous Hawaiian songs!

Check out Amy Hanaiali’i on Spotify or Amazon

15. Kuana Torres Kahele

In 1995, Kuana Torres Kahale was one of the founding members of the multi-award winning group Na Palapalai. Their music featured original compositions as well as reviving Hawaiian classics.

And their song “Ke Anu O Waimea” is still the most popular hula song in Japan (where more than 10,000 hula halau groups operate.)

He’s one of the top Hawaii music artists.

Best Hawaiian musical artists to listen to on Spotify and AmazonPrime, featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Kauna Torres Kahele

Since then, he’s launched himself as a solo artist and has created a series called “Music for the Hawaiian Islands.” In this series, he focuses on each major Hawaiian island.

And if you’ve seen the Pixar short “Lava,” you’ve already heard his music! He voices the male lead!

Check out Kuana Torres Kahele on Spotify or Amazon

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2 Comments

  1. Keali’i Reichel purchased the musical software, which he used to create his first album, from Island Software in Kahului.

    His $150.00 check bounced and he has never made good on his purchase.

    It’s sad that his subsequent fame is based on an NSF check.

    • Marcie Cheung Reply

      Oh I’ve never heard that one before! What a crazy way to kick off such a global career!

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