Performers

45th Annual Ukulele Festival

July 19, 2015

Herb Ohta-san Ohta

Herb "Ohta-san" Ohta, internationally renowned musician, began playing the ukulele when he was only 7 years old. Influenced greatly by Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Eddie Kamae, this exceptional musician is credited for elevating the ukulele to a solo instrument of virtuoso status. Ohta-san's diversity and style reflect his lyrical sense and is respected as the height of ukulele artistry. Ohta san is the world’s most prolific ukulele recording artist.

Danny Kaleikini

Danny Kaleikini, Hawaii’s Ambassador of Aloha, has supported the Ukulele Festival since 1972. A legend in Hawaiian entertainment drawing audiences from around the world for well over 40 years, Danny is the spiritual and physical embodiment of aloha. Through his music, cultural promotion, historical awareness and charity, he touches the hearts of millions.

Willie Kahaiali`i

Willie K - Raised on Maui, Willie Kahaiali`i (a.k.a. Willie K) has been entertaining audiences with his music since the age of 10. He has evolved into an eclectic and charismatic singer, songwriter, entertainer, and now actor. One of Hawaii’s most versatile talents, Willie performs a myriad of musical genres, including Hawaiian, Jazz, Blues, Reggae, Rock, Country Western, and even Opera. He has played with or opened for musical giants, such as B.B. King, Santana, Al DiMeola, Willie Nelson, Prince, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Elvin Bishop, Bonnie Rait, Jackson Browne, Mick Fleetwood, George Benson, Jimmy Buffett and more. In 2009 he toured Germany with Simply Red, and in 2013 held his first Uncle Willie K’s BBQ Blues Festival in Maui featuring Elvin Bishop, Angela Strehli, and Steven Tyler. During his 2nd Annual Blues Fest, Willie brought Billy F Gibbons, Mick Fleetwood, Pat Simmons and legendary Robert Belfour to the stage.

Paula Fuga

Paula Fuga is a musician on a mission. Though many play music for the platitudes or acclaim, Paula plays music for a culture, spreading the thoughtful and evocative voice of the Hawaiian people across the world. Not content to be merely a widely respected artist, Paula has taken on the mantle of cultural ambassador---using her talent as an instrument to help bring about positive social change performing at benefit concerts for charter schools, instilling the Hawaiian culture in the generations to come. On her independent record label, Pakipika Productions, Paula Fuga has managed to release her unique flavor of music around the world, earning an astounding and dedicated fan base, while collecting impressive critical acclaim, including a Na Hoku Hano Hano Award; Hawaii's highest and most prestigious music honor, which lead to her collaboration with the Honolulu Symphony, opening for Three Dog Night.

Herb Ohta, Jr.

International recording artist Herb Ohta, Jr., is one of today's most prolific `ukulele masters. Influenced by Jazz, R&B, Latin and Brazilian music, he puts his stamp on Hawaiian music by pushing the limits of tone and technique on this beautiful instrument. The son of `ukulele legend "Ohta-san," he started playing at the age of three, and teaching at the age of nine. He now shares the music of Hawai‘i and the beauty of the ‘ukulele with people around the world, performing and conducting instructional workshops. This multi Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner (Hawaiian equivalent to the Grammy) and four-time Hawai‘i Music Award winner effortlessly translates the beauty and culture of Hawai‘i through his creative expression of music.

Aidan James

Aidan James - 13 year old Aidan is this year’s Na Hoku Hanohano finalist  for “EP of the Year” and is the youngest ever to be nominated.  Aidan has been playing the ukulele since he was 4 years old. Not until the age of 8 did he find his passion when he heard Train’s classic "Hey Soul Sister" on the radio prominently featuring the ukulele. Five years ago Aidan’s performance of the song at the Ukulele Festival was captured on video and proceeded to go viral and attract 20 million views on YouTube.  It caught the attention of Train's lead singer, Pat Monahan, who called it the best cover of his Grammy award winning song and featured Aidan in their music video, "Mermaid." Aidan has shared the stage with Jack Johnson, Jake Shimabukuro, Mick Fleetwood, Lisa Loeb, and has performed for the prestigious Pillars of Peace event with Desmond Tutu.

Nick Acosta

Nick Acosta, 19 years old was born with one hand and arm. Nick started ukulele lessons with instructor Royanne Labuguen and at the age of 9 she brought him under the wings of Roy Sakuma.   Nick has become an ukulele extraordinaire inspiring many. Roy Sakuma says, “You think Nick has limits, but he just works around it.” His mom Kim never taught him the words “you can’t” always encouraging Nick ‘you can do whatever you put your mind to.'

Ukulele Band

Roy Sakuma Ukulele 800 piece Ukulele Band - An ukulele orchestra of 800 students from 5 to 85 will take the stage at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki and delight the crowd. They’ll perform Hawaiian, oldies, pop, reggae, jazz, country, rock, classical – tunes that you never imagined could be played on the ukulele.

California

Aloha Picking Ohana

Aloha Picking Ohana – The Aloha Picking Ohana are students from the Los Angeles area with instructor Mel Ogata, a 1956 graduate of Maui High School. Most of the students are retired senior citizens with Hawaii roots. The picking style is from the 1950’s where chords form the foundation for creating the melody. The Ohana has performed previously at Ukulele Festival Hawaii in 2013 and also at the Kumukahi Festival in Las Vegas at the Sam’s Town Concert Hall and various venues throughout Southern California.

Sunset Strummers

The Sunset Strummers Ukulele Ohana was organized by Eleanor Y. Higa Nedjar in May, 2004, Eleanor continues to prepare and direct the music which she instructs at the Vista Senior Center Twice a week. The group learns and performs for many community organizations, hospitals, libraries, private organizations, churches, etc.

Canada

Langley Ukulele Ensemble

The Langley Ukulele Ensemble, now under the direction of Paul Luongo, is in its 34th year of existence. Over the 34 years, the ensemble has developed a reputation at home and abroad for excellence in musical performance. The 25 ensemble members range in age from 12 to 21 years, and are students attending middle school, secondary or post-secondary institutions. The group's motto is "Enriching Lives through Music". They hope to leave audiences with a sense that there is reason to be hopeful about the future of today's youth. The ensemble is thankful for its relationship with the Sheraton Waikiki and are proud to celebrate this summers 20th anniversary tour to Honolulu, Hawaii.

Israel

Ukulele For Peace

Ukuleles For Peace - 11 years of playing and singing for peace. Young Jews and Arabs succeed at what adults have not been able to. By playing music together, they befriend one another. Moreover, children of both nationalities involve their families, and together they turn the wheels of social change in Israel. "Ukuleles for Peace" was created by the musician, Paul Moore, who via the ukulele found a great way to bring people together. We, UFP, want to inspire you through our music, share our story and spread our message of Peace.

Italy

Jontom

Jontom – After having spent most of his life composing music, Luca Tomassini jumped on the ukulele many years ago. That was the beginning of a new path, the beginning of "Jontom". Thrilled by the shadows beneath those four strings, he brought the ukulele into the heart of the Eternal City, his hometown Rome.

Japan

Fulare Pad

Fulare-Pad - Kyoto, Japan - Fulare-Pad is a combination of a Japanese word "furari" and a English word "pad" referred to as a free and easy journey.  Their unique harmony of ukulele and acoustic guitar takes you on a musical journey soothing your soul. Daisuke Maeda and Hideyuki Shimizu started their professional career in 2008, and has released three CD’s and performed nationally and internationally including Hawaii, Canada, Thailand, Australia and Italy.

Nihon Ukulele Association

Nihon Ukulele Association – NUA is a non-profit organization for Amateur Ukulele Players in Japan. It was founded in 1959 by Harry Yukihiko Haida, a Hawaiian-born Japanese-American who contributed a lot to bring 'Hawaiian Music' to Japanese people, and is having more than 50 years of history to promote ukulele music and friendship with Hawaiian people.

Yamaha Music School of Ukulele

YAMAHA Music School of Ukulele was established in 1997 and now has over 4000 students. We are happy to have the Niulani Akane Hula Studio join us at the 45th Annual Ukulele Festival Hawaii. Our motto is to have fun! to enjoy music! to give aloha to everyone!

Tatae Kolohe Imamura

Tatae "Kolohe" Imamura – 85 years old “Kolohe” started playing the ukulele at the age of 20. He founded the "Kolohe Imamura Ukulele School" and also the Hawaiian music group "Kolohe Imamura & Lei Kings". Kolohe has been performing at Ukulele Festival Hawaii for 19 consecutive years since 1995.

Korea

Korea Ukulele Orchestra

Korea Ukulele Orchestra (KUO) has performed in the Korea Ukulele Festival since 2011 and will soon perform in China, Taiwan, Japan and Canada. They consist of 56 members who play ukulele, string, brass, percussion. Their conductor, James Jeong, is president of Korean Ukulele Ensemble Association. In 2013 James Jeong participated in the 43th Annual Ukulele Festival Hawaii with Korea’s Pica Pica Ukulele Orchestra.

Taiwan

Johnny Chang

Johnny Chang is proficient in numerous musical fields.  He is the owner of a famous studio and published a top selling book in Taiwan called “Johnny’s Ukulele”.  Johnny was once invited by the leader in China to perform at their official events.  Currently, he is working with all the famous singers in Asia.

Thailand

Johnny Chang

Singto Numchok is Thailand's "Best Male Artist of the Year" and has received many music awards.  He has played a big role in introducing the ukulele to Thai people.  After winning the first Thailand Ukulele Contest in 2010, Singto continues to help Ribbee Ukulele of Thailand spread the Aloha spirit through ukulele.  Besides being a great musician, Singto is a movie/TV actor and hosts his own television program.  He was selected to be one of the judges for “The Voice – Thailand’s” latest season.  This marks Singto’s fourth year at the Ukulele Festival.  He always looks forward to returning to Hawaii where he was married to his lovely wife, Malia.

Hotel Reservations Ukulele Festival Hawaii Gala
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Ukulele Festival CD “Come and Join Us”
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Theme Song CD
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Ukulele Festival DVD 35th Anniversary
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