If anyone could be described as having “Hawaiian heart and soul,” it is indeed Ryan Kamakakēhau Fernandez. He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas of African American descent, and, at 6 weeks old, was adopted by Robyn Nae`ole and brought to the shores of Maui, Hawai`i. It is here that his new family and home shaped “Kamaka” into one of Hawai`i’s newest and most refreshing talents.
Kamaka’s education played a huge part in his love and appreciation for the Hawaiian culture and music. He is a graduate of the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (Kula Kaiapuni, Pā’ia, Kalama, and King Kekaulike High School) and is proud to be a fluent speaker of the Hawaiian language. E Ola Ka `Ōlelo Hawai`i (Let the Hawaiian Language live on) is what Kamaka’s motto is for the language of the land. Kamaka has been featured in the Disney Animation film “MOANA” remade in the Hawaiian language, in which he plays the role of The Shiny Crab (Tamatoa). He has also performed onstage in an all-Hawaiian language casted play at both Chaminade University and Brigham Young University.
As he studied - and lived - the Hawaiian culture and language, a new-found love emerged from within as he became enamored with the `ukulele and the art of leo ki`eki`e (falsetto) singing. He was the 2003 winner of falsetto legend Richard Ho`opi`i’s Falsetto Contest, (part of the annual Aloha Festivals celebrations) and from that point on, Kamaka continued to astonish audiences with the range of his voice, the strum of his `ukulele, and his heart, which is truly Hawaiian.
As Kamaka states … “I love my mom, my `ohana, my friends, and this wonderful culture that I was lucky enough to be immersed in. Hawai`i is my heart and soul.”
Kamaka has performed on numerous prestigious stages within the State of Hawai`i, including the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s Celebration of the Arts, the Castle Theater at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Oahu’s Keiki Hula Festival, the Tahiti Fête, and the Grand Hyatt Kaua`i, as well as stages in the continental United States and Japan.
Kamaka was one of the featured performers on the 2004 Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contest Winners – Vol. 5 CD; he was the 2012 winner of 4th Annual Kani Ka Pila Grille Talent Search; and he worked with multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano (Hawai`i’s version of the Grammys) award-winning producer Dave Tucciarone on his debut solo album “Wahi Mahalo,” for which he won the 2013 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Extended Play - EP!
To learn more about Kamakakehau Fernandez
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