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Ledward Ka'apana

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A master of the slack key guitar, Ledward Kaapana has been one of Hawaii's most influential musicians for nearly three decades. A founding member of Hui 'Ohana, a group he formed in the early-1970s, with his twin brother, Nedward, and a cousin, Dennis Pavao, Kaapana was instrumental to bringing the slack key traditional to stages around the globe. Launching a solo career in 1983, Kaapana has continued to garner acclaim for his improvisational melodies and falsetto vocals. The Honolulu Advertiser called Kaapana, "friendly, generous, self-effacing, a little kolohe (rascally) and a flat out genius at just about any stringed instrument that can be finger-picked." Born on the southeastern shore of the Big Island, in the shadow of the Kilauea volcano, Kaapana grew up without tlectricity, television and telephones. As a youngster, he was inspired by the playing an uncle, Fred, who had taught himself to play slack key guitar. Kaapana continues to tune his guitar in the unique tunings that, according to legend, were revealed to his uncle in a series of dreams. Kaapana was equally influenced by such slack key guitarists as Gabby Pahinui and Raymond Kane. Kaapana's first success as a soloist came when his 1983 album, Lima Wela, received the prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano award as "Best Instrumental Album". Performing in the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife, in 1988, he toured with the National Council of Traditional Arts program, "Masters Of The Steel String Guitar", from 1990 to 1992. Kaapana has collaborated with a wide range of musicians. A concert with steel string guitarist Bob Brozman was released on a video, Kila Kila Meets Ki Ho'alu, in 1997. The following year, he recorded an album, Waltz Of The Wind, with guest musicians including Brozman, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, Sonny Landreth, Ricky Skaggs and George Winston. Black Sand followed in mid-2000; In the Saddle was issued in early 2001. ~ Craig Harris



Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s