Though now living in beautiful Waimānalo, 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 strumming along. 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.
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. Kawika was then a member of “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.” He also was awarded with two more Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 2015 for his all slack key, mostly instrumental CD, “Ho’omaluhia”, and his “Ku’u ‘Aina Aloha” CD, which features his song titled “Waimanalo.”