A riveting performer, Kaumakaiwa creates some of the most original work to emerge in contemporary Hawaiian music, drawing from ancestral memory and hula practice as chant transforms to melody. Kaumakaiwa seamlessly melds Hawaiian culture and modern sensibilities in deeply powerful music.
Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole has been on stage since she could walk. A charismatic dancer and singer, with an impressive vocal range from tenor chant to Hawaiian falsetto singing, she is a five-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano [Hawaiian “Grammy”] Award-winner with 3 solo CDs to her name. She is the great grandchild of Edith Kanaka‘ole, who was one of the seminal figures of the Hawaiian Renaissance which helped bring Hawaiian culture back into the central life of the Islands. Since birth, Kaumakaiwa has dedicated her life to her illustrious family’s practice and passion – hula (Hālau O Kekuhi) and Hawaiian culture. Her vocal performances are an outgrowth of the Hawaiian art of chant and songwriting, with roots in rhythms and metaphors of hula. She was honored with an NACF (Native Arts & Cultures Foundation) Fellowship Award. In 2018, she was invited to be an Opening Plenary Speaker at the APAP’s annual national conference in New York, as well as sit on a world music panel. She was the first Hawaiian performer to appear at globalFEST in New York.
A modern transgender Hawaiian (mahu wahine), she is a vibrant keeper of culture, an authentic innovator, and fun, as she engages indigenous thought to address today’s issues through music, chant, and sharing of spirit. With plenty of humor, she provides wry commentary and stories to give context to her songs. Award-winning musician and producer Shawn Pimental accompanies on guitar and backup vocals.