Keali'i Reichel

Keali’i Reichel, born Carleton Lewis Kealiʻinaniaimokuokalani Reichel in the early 1960s, made a mark on the world music stage by performing the music of his native Hawaii, as well as promoting that state’s traditional musical and dance culture around the globe. After an arrest in his early 20s led to some time studying Hawaiian history, he devoted his energies to learning as much as he could and sharing it with the world. In 1994 he recorded his first collection of traditional songs, Kawaipunahele, and self-released the album. It went on to sell over 300,000 copies, becoming the most successful album in the history of Hawaii. The follow-up, 1995’s Lei Hali’a, proved he was no fluke and led to an international record label deal for 1997’s E O Mai and 1999’s Melelana. By combining savvy nods to modern popular music while resolutely staying within Hawaiian traditions, he became not just the most popular Hawaiian musician of his day, but a frequent award winner earning Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards, considered by many to be the Grammys of Hawaii, for Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the year five times each between 1995 and 2015. Four times in that stretch he captured Album of the year (Kawaipunahele, Melelana, 2004’s Ke’akaokamaile, and 2014’s Kawaiokalena, which was also Grammy nominated). His 2014 track “Ka Nohona Pili Kai” was named Song of the Year. He played regularly in the most revered venues around the world, and remained a force on the Billboard World Music charts, even while opening schools in Hawaii for others to learn native music and hula disciplines.

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