The beautiful American island is not only known for the beautiful landscapes and relaxing atmosphere of its people. Ukulele players are one of the most memorable things that we enjoy about Hawaiian people. Today, we’ll do a rundown on 20 famous Hawaiian ukulele players.
1. Israel Kamakawiwo: One of the most important Hawaiian musicians of all time who sadly died from respiratory issues related to his obesity in 1997. His music was all about promoting the Hawaiian culture and values. Movies like Madagascar used his songs as soundtracks as to remember his great legacy.
2. Eddie Kamae: A self-taught ukulele prodigy and former member of the Ukulele Rascals, the first all-ukulele act ever. He focused on teaching Hawaiian culture through music and to be able to leave that for future generations. He died earlier this year at 89 years old.
3. Genoa Keawe: Also known as �Aunty’ Genoa Keawe was another great figure in the ukulele playing world. Amazing vocal skills and natural musical talent characterized this Hawaiian language lover. She sang at church and became a professional musician before WWII. Unfortunately she died in 2008, but the love for her music will never go away.
4. Daniel Ho: He is interested in a lot of other things that are not even close to music, but he still develops that skill pretty well. With multiple Grammy awards won and lots of performances throughout the years, he is definitely a great figure in the music industry.
5. Dennis Kamakahi: Died at the early age of 61, together with Eddie Kamae and a few others, he was a member of the Sons of Hawaii while he was replacing Gabby Pahinui. Former member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, he even created a music publishing firm. He is a grammy award winner with lots of other recognitions, thanks to his music.
6. Moe Keale: This particular ukulele virtuoso had actual Hawaiian ancestry. A lot of people might remember him from Hawaii Five-O and also as a member of the Sons of Hawaii, but his music was crucial to influence Israel Kamakawiwo’ole; that is something we should all be thankful for. He died at the Sheraton Waikiki while performing in 2002.
7. Peter Moon: He embraces people knowing about Hawaii’s great music and organized the Kanikapila which intended to accomplish that. He was put into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 2007. He and his band (Brothers Cazimero) switch music range really frequently, but that actually helped to raise their popularity.
8. “King” Bennie Nawahi: Sid Grauman gave him the nickname “King of the Ukulele”, and it fits. His incapability to see didn’t stopped him from become that really talented and joyful musician we all know and love. He did a lot of great things despite of his disability, and that is just something else to remember him for.
9. Ledward Kaapana: Falsetto is his strength, and he has recorded with Bob Brozman as well as releasing lots of albums. Chet Atkins gave him his guitar! A lot of people during the 90s were able to see the best skills and listen to his beautiful voice, which we can all remember with joy and amusement. He still lives to tell others his amazing music journey and all about the difficulties he had to go through thanks to the volcanic eruption of Kilauea in 1986.
10. Willie K: Despite being great at the ukulele, he plays different musical styles. His father’s band was the major influence for little 10 year old Willie who just loved to perform along with him. In 2007 he had a Hoku as a part of three different acts, which definitely outstands him from other prodigious players.
11. Lyle Ritz: Huge representative of the Hawaii ukulele genre. He was a key in lots of American pop hits during the decades of 1960-1980. Also, he participated in the Korean War in representation of USA. He returned to ukulele music years after that and got into the Ukulele hall of Fame in 2007.
12. Jake Shimabukuro: Not only a composer but also performer, his finer work is everything but despicable and the fact that they can move really fast is just amazing. This means he has absolutely no issues what so ever in getting great sound. He plays a lot of different music styles and also has a focus on giving the best quality every single time. He is definitely one player that we should all know about.
13. George Harrison: The former member of The Beatles had a hidden talent that a lot of us may not even know about until today. He worked more towards rock with the ukulele, but he still performed folk and jazz. The pitch and tonality were unique for him, which makes him a great artist to look up to!
14. Jack Johnson: Soft, acoustic, and folk rock were his favorite styles, and it’s easy to notice it since the sound produced is simply delightful. His vocals give his songs a lot of emotion and the sound is always of great quality. There is a lot of depth into each of the notes he plays.
15. Ernest Kaai: Being talented at a lot of instruments, he was definitely a pioneer of Hawaiian music and ukulele playing. Jhonny Noble described him as “Hawaii’s greatest ukulele player”, in his time. He was the main inspiration for other virtuous uke players for the future to come. His instruction book “The Ukelele, A Hawaiian Guitar” helped a lot of people to know about the beautiful instrument and to see it as a really unique and emblematic piece.
16. John Kameaaloha Almeida: One of the most outstanding figure in Hawaiian music history. Also known as the “Dean of Hawaiian Music”. Great ukulele player who performed with artists like Genoa Keawe, Julia Nui, Joe Keawe and Alvin Isaacs.
17. Jesse Kaleihia Andre Kalima: A 6 year old Jesse started to get interested in performing while watching his mom with Lena Mechado. At this age he already played the ukulele and knew how to dance. His signature tune that was given by the song “Start and Stripes Forever” is probably one of the biggest reason we remember him with love and respect.
18. Andy Cummings: Waikiki, one of the classic songs in the history of the music from the tropical island was composed by him. He worked with Gabby Pahini and had this great pitch and quality of sound that was definitely remarkable.
19. Herb Ohta: Pupil of the great Eddie Kamae and with an incredible 50 year music career, his 30 albums also show how talented this man was and what he was capable of.
20. David Kamakahi: Son of the previous mentioned Dennis Kamakahi started on the ukele at the age of 15. He got together with his dad to record a few years later and some of the best albums from their genre came out (�Ohana, Hui Aloha, and Na Oiwi).