Kuana Torres Kahele

Kuana Torres Kahele

Seeing a traditional Hawaiian musician at the SFJAZZ Center might seem surprising. Unless, of course, that musician is Kuana Torres Kahele, a rising star who has been winning accolades for his singing, songwriting, and genre-bending creativity. Born on the slopes of Mauna Kea, Kuana Torres Kahele comes from an impressive lineage of Hawaiian musicians. When he was just 15, he was hand-picked by a master of Hawaiian dance to compose music for hula dancers. In 1995, he formed a trio, Na Palapalai, which gained critical and popular acclaim for reinvigorating a classical Hawaiian style. Kahele’s unforgettable singing ranges from the raw, guttural intensity stemming from ancient chants to the nostalgic strains of the 1950s to the soaring falsetto on original compositions. His slack-key guitar can summon the ache of a Spanish ballad and the cool breeze of Waimea. Kuana Torres Kahele has garnered a total of 13 Na Hoku Hanohano awards, Hawai'i’s equivalent of the Grammies. He arrives in San Francisco with a second solo album under his belt, proving that, though only in his thirties, he continues to innovate and expand the boundaries of Hawaiian music.

Artist Personnel

Kuana Torres Kahele
     lead vocals, lead guitar
Ioane Burns vocals, bass
Glenn Mayeda vocals, guitar

"As a contemporary singer/songwriter in traditional Hawaiian music, Kuana Torres Kahele is without peer… At once deeply familiar and utterly unlike anything we’ve heard before. " — Honolulu Weekly
"His vocal prowess embodies falsetto tones; the style is unabashedly Hawaiian, though there’s an instance of Spanish and vaqueros intervention that simply makes his stew of music robust with seasoning. " — Honolulu Star Advertiser