Though now living in beautiful Waimanalo, Kawika grew
up in the small town of Kane`ohe on the 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,
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".
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 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. He married his high school sweetheart,
Laurie Yano, and they have been blessed with five
children and two grandsons.
Over the years, Kawika has contributed his musical
talent to some 78 recording projects and has
collaborated or performed with artists such as Jack
Johnson, Kaukahi, Palani Vaughan Melveen Leed, Brother
Noland, Leon and Malia, Kawehi Lindsey, Jesse Rivera,
Kapena, Pierre Grill, Na Leo Pilimehana, Kelly Boy
Delima, Del Beazley, Native Hawaiian Band ,Cyri Pahinui,
Amy Gilliom, Dennis Kamakahi, Daniel Ho, Paula Fuga,
Martin Pahinui, Rene Paulo, Walt Keale As a studio
musician, he has also offered his guitar stylings to
enhance jingles and theme songs for radio and television
Besides being a recording artist and an ordained
minister, Kawika is also on the Kokua Hawai'i Foundation
board, a 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 Kokua Hawai'i Festivals and jumping
on stage with Jack Johnson 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.
Kawika is also on the board of PBS Hawai'i, under the
leadership of Leslie Wilcox, he passionately supports
their programming and feels honored to be a part of
their organization. He was so inspired their programming
one night that wrote the current theme song for
PBS....Hawaii and you!
Another board that Kawika serves on is the North Shore
Community Land Trust. Deep fulfillment comes from being
a part of this organization, whose mission is to
protect, steward, and enhance the natural landscapes,
cultural heritage, and rural character of ahupua‘a from
Kahuku Point to Ka‘ena.
Kawika's first solo recording project, "ALANA", emerged
in 1996 and continues to captivate many with it's
soothing combination of contemporary and traditional
Hawaiian tunes, along with ki ho`alu. Through the years,
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 2000. Both
projects share his mana`o (feelings) in Kawika's unique
way. The current band that Kawika is a member of is "Kaukahi",
who received 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!
Kawika was also been honored to be featured on Grammy
Award Winning CD, "Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key."
Serving Ke Akua 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".