Kauwila's picture About Kauwila
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"Kauwila captures the spirit of Hawai'i in his recordings. Smooth and relaxing, Kauwila's music rests your mind and heart and takes you on a gentle journey through the tropical vibrations of the islands.

"Kauwila possesses a powerful voice, a command of Hawaiian vocals, and his soothing slack-key style flows perfectly with the lyrics of Hawaiian music."

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Kauwila is one of the most well-known and approachable slack key artists in Kailua Kona. He developed his current ki ho'alu style after moving to Kona in 1999. Inspired by such slack-key masters as Raymond Kane, Sonny Chillingworth, and John Keawe, his slack-key style mirrors the rhythms of old Hawai'i. When he plays slack-key and sings Hawaiian music, you hear the Spirit of the islands play through him.

Kauwila learned to play guitar in the classical style, from a classical guitarist on the mainland U.S. In 1995, while living in Manoa Valley, he heard this guitar style called "slack key" ("What is slack key guitar?", you ask?) on some CDs he bought in Honolulu. He was so entranced and enchanted! After listening to these CDs and watching some of the slack key masters (specifically, John Keawe, George Kuo, Dennis Kamakahi, Sonny Chillingworth, and, of course, Gabby Pahinui), he began to retune his guitar to "Taro Patch" (open G), and was soon learning to play slack key himself, in his own style.

A very important influence "came into" his life in 1998, in the person of Walter Carvalho. Kauwila first heard him at a concert at the Bishop Museum. His wonderfully relaxing and pleasing method of playing was a joy to hear. He later discovered that Walter was teaching "adult ed" classes in slack key at Kalaheo High School ($25 for six classes!...not bad, yeah?). So he signed up and learned many valuable techniques that had escaped him before. Many mahalos to "Uncle" Walter. He was a VERY important influence even though he never knew it!

Another very important influence for Kauwila was his first voice teacher, Kathy MacLean, from Detroit, Michigan. A Juilliard graduate, she worked with so-called "ordinary" people, to help them learn to sing with a healthy, strong technique. As a result of her tutelage, Kauwila possesses an astounding, relaxed but powerful voice, and a command of his singing. His Hawaiin vocals blend beautifully with his soothing slack-key style.

In 1999 he moved to Kailua Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai'i. There he experienced the magnificence of the newest land in the world. The Spirits (Aumakua) were very active there and taught him to listen, respect, love, and care for the ‘aina (land). His slack key talents grew and his style developed into more of an "old" style, very rhythmic, with a measured cadence that mirrored the rhythms of the Big Island. He began to write more songs which he performed at various coffee shops, restaurants, and churches along the Kona coast.

In 2002, Kauwila moved to work in San Diego, for two years. While he was there, he felt so very home "sick" for the islands, that many new melodies came to him. He recalled the beauty and joy of places like Hapuna Beach, Nanakuli, Pokai Bay, Leahi (Diamond Head), especially the sunsets he experienced at those locations. So moved was he by these memories, that he recorded his first CD, Alaula (Sunset Glow of Hawai'i).

When he returned to the Big Island (Kailua Kona, again) in late 2003, more music began to flow. He started playing at venues such as Parker Ranch Shopping Center, Kona International Market, and the Keauhou Farmers Market. Eventually, Uncle Billy heard him play, and he brought Kauwila to the Kona Inn Shopping Village, to play at the open-air boardlwalk on cruise ship days.

In 2005, Kauwila recorded his second CD, Love Songs from Hawai'i). Later, in 2006, he recorded In the Spirit of Hawai'i.

For several years, Kauwila had worked in the field of coffee, and, being from Kona, had always enjoyed drinking the gentle and flavorful Kona coffee. He eventually had a vision of recording slack key music especially for Kona coffee, and dedicated to those who worked in and helped develop the world of Kona coffee. He also wanted to record "Kona style" slack key music for people to enjoy while drinking Kona coffee. Thus in 2007, just in time for the Kona Coffee Festival of 2007, he recorded and released Kona Coffee Music.

Well that's all for now.

From Kauwila of Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai'i, Ka Home a'o Pele (Home of fire-goddess, Pele),

I wish you all, Aloha!!

For more information about slack key guitar, please read Kauwila's brochure,
"What is Slack Key Guitar?"

An excellent comprehensive history of slack key guitar may be found at DancingCat.com.

"My name, "Kauwila", means "the lightning", in Hawaiian. The meaning is more like the lightning that illuminates the dark sky, bringing light to the darkness. I trust that is what my music does, as well as my spirit.

"When I perform, I try to tune in to the Hawaiian "spirits of light" around me. These "spirits" often include a few of the monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom. In downtown Kailua Kona, often I see and feel the presence of the last monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, and her predecessor, King David Kalakaua.

"My name also has recently taken another spelling, "Kau'ila". Something about this spelling seemed right to some who know me, and it was revealed to me one night, that this spelling represents my inner spiritual "function". "Kau'i" means "to place", "La" means "light". So this alternate spelling has shown me that I am here, to the best of my ability, to "place the light" wherever I go.

"All names can indicate to us what we are here to learn, or point us to our true nature and purpose for being here. I believe each of us has the wonderful "task" of discovering what our name means for us in our own life."

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