Henry Kapono is a performer who has it all – vocalist, guitarist, songwriter, composer, thrilling performer, audience favorite—and multiple honors and awards, including a Grammy nomination. He has taken home 14 Na Hoku Hano Hano Awards (Hawaii’s “Grammy”) including Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, Single of the Year, Album of the Year, and Rock Album of the Year, and in 2016, along with John Cruz and Brother Noland: Best EPK for his Rough Riders “We Ride” CD.
Henry’s original songs with a rock vibe celebrate his love for his family, express his pride in his Hawaiian culture, and share his joy in his home in the Islands!
He has been at the creative forefront of contemporary Hawaiian music throughout his career – from the laid-back island rock of Cecilio & Kapono in the 1970s and 80s, to launching his solo career that produced 18 albums and fans around the world to his Henry Kapono & Friends collaborations celebrating the music that represents the sound track of Hawaii, to his Ground breaking Wild Hawaiian that fuses the power of Hawaiian traditions with driving rock rhythms and a soundtrack for the new century. The simple honesty of his lyrics and music touch the soul, his wildly talented guitar-playing shares his joy in being alive, and the gift of an evocative, laintive balladeer’s voice haunts you long after he leaves the stage.
“If my music makes you dance then do it. If it makes you sing then sing it. If it makes you want to know more about Hawaii’s culture then….Welcome To My Paradise!” Henry Kapono
Known as “Kapono”, the Hawaiian word for righteous, Henry is pure Hawaiian, born and raised in Kapahulu, a small town just outside Waikiki. He started singing in a children’s church choir at age 5. His athletic abilities earned him a baseball scholarship to the renowned Punahou Academy (President Obama’s alma mater) and a football scholarship to the University of Hawaii. Injuries prevented a career as a professional football player, but, profoundly, moved him toward his passion for music and allowed him to fully realize his potential as an artist. Though he had no formal musical training, “My Dad taught me how to play the ‘ukulele.” says Henry. “I saw a friend of mine play a guitar one day and fell in love with the sound of it. He taught me a few chords and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Touring with a local rock band in the late 60s, he ended up stranded by the promoter in Vietnam. He and the band spent 2 years performing for the troops in Vietnam and Thailand before returning to Hawaii. The experience left him with a lasting commitment to peace, a deep appreciation for life, and compassion and aloha (love) for all people—themes that continue to resonate in his music.
When he soared to the forefront of Hawaiian music in the 1970s with the duo Cecilio & Kapono, they became the first Hawaii group to achieve a national recording contract (Columbia Records). Together they recorded 13 albums, giving contemporary and folk rock—and Hawaiian music—a new perspective.
Always musically adventurous, Henry launched a solo career in 1981; he has released 18 albums to date. He continues to break new ground with his collaborations – The Wild Hawaiian in 2006, joining driving rock and slam poetry with Hawaiian chant, Henry Kapono & FRIENDS concert series in 2014 featuring Henry and many other top entertainers from Hawaii and beyond, The Rough Riders in 2015 celebrating the Hawaiian Cowboys (Paniolo) with haunting harmonies and a unique blending or guitars – that appeal to audiences around the world. He is also the author of the award winning children’s book, A Beautiful Hawaiian Day, has appeared in films, and has made many television appearances.
BIO By Karen A. Fischer
What’s Up at the Belly Up Podcast features Hawaii's very own rock star, Henry Kapono!! This week we talked about the Hawaiian Grammys, traditional and modern music, cultural identity, free love, and horn honking.