Influenced by world renowned slack key master Gabby "Pops" Pahinui, who with guitar in hand frequented the casual “garage parties” held at Kawika’s family home when he was young, his passion for ki ho`alu (slack-key guitar) was born and continued to grow. After breaking into the professional music scene at age 17, joining Chucky Boy Chock and O`ahu Brand, he went on to perform with the Sunday Mānoa’s Palani Vaughan. Over the years he has contributed his talents to over 80 recording projects and has collaborated and performed with artists such as the internationally acclaimed Jack Johnson; Na Leo, Cyril Pahinui and more. Subsequent to the release of his first two solo albums ("Alana" in 1996 and "One Heart/One Voice" in 2000), Kahiapo formed the group Kaukahi, which received three Nā Hōkū awards in 2007 for their debut album “Life in These Islands" - including one for Song of the Year for the album’s title cut, which Kawika wrote. He is also the recipient of the Slack Key Artist of the Year award; was featured on the GRAMMY® award winning album "Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key"; and has recorded numerous jingles and theme songs for radio and television ads.
Kuʻu ʻAina Aloha was produced by Kahiapo. Chris Lau of Rhythm and Roots co-produced and engineered the album. Guest artists include: Chris Lau (bass); Nick Olds (percussion); Greg Sardinha (steel guitar); and LT Smooth (guitar). In addition to vocals, Kahiapo plays guitar, ʻukulele, cuatro, bass, and percussion. One of the album’s original songs, “Waimanalo,” composed about the place Kawika calls home, was performed on “Let’s Play Music! Slack Key with Cyril Pahinui & Friends” - a PBS TV special dedicated to the memory of Gabby "Pops" Pahinui. The song is also being aired on Hawaiian Airlines flights.
In his words: “On this CD, I wrote songs about special places in my heart: ‘Ku'u 'Aina Aloha,’ (my beloved land.) As a Hawaiian, love for the 'aina, special places of richness and beauty, are a part of me, and I a part of them.”
The CD will initially be released through Kahiapoʻs website and on Me Ke Aloha, followed by wider release through other online outlets (including iTunes and CD Baby), as well as local retailers.
Here are some song clips from the album: