Described as “dazzling” by The New York Times, Makana is an internationally acclaimed guitarist, singer, composer and activist who is widely known for lending his musical talent for social change. His guitar playing has been featured on three Grammy®-nominated albums, including the soundtrack of the Academy-Award winning film The Descendants.
Makana’s captivating and wide-ranging performance style has led him to share the stage with Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson, open for music legends Sting, Carlos Santana and Elvis Costello, and perform in venues ranging from Asian and European opera houses to The White House.
Born and raised in Hawai’i, Makana grew up on the shores of Waikiki amid the diversity of such legends as Don Ho and Bruno Mars. Makana — whose name means “a gift given freely” — began singing when he was 7 years old, took up ukulele at 9 and began learning the ancient art of slack key at 11. By 14, he was performing professionally, and before long, playing five nights a week. His reputation as the youngest virtuoso of slack key spread like molten volcanic lava throughout the islands.
The focus of Makana’s art is to celebrate the beauty of tradition while exploring new, relevant perceptions, sounds and themes. In his music he often honors his forebearers, the vintage Hawaiian music legends as well as the rock poet idols of the ’60s, paying homage to the kupuna (elders) who carry within their Beings the cultural wisdom passed down through generations.