Kahilu Theatre presents slack-key guitarist Makana

  • Kahilu Theatre presents An Evening with Makana as he returns to Waimea for two performances next month. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

From his youth as a slack-key guitar prodigy to his historic theatrical concerts honoring kupuna, from his presidential poetic protests and people’s anthems to his aloha ‘aina, Makana has created quite an artistic legacy.

Kahilu Theatre presents An Evening with Makana as he returns to Waimea for two performances next month.

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Makana is a singer, composer and master of the indigenous Hawaiian slack-key guitar tradition. The New York Times called him “dazzling.” His original music has been featured on three Grammy-nominated albums, including the soundtrack of the Academy-Award winning film “The Descendants,” starring George Clooney.

Born in 1978, Makana grew up on the shores of Waikiki amid the likes of legend Don Ho and young Bruno Mars. Makana — whose name means “a gift given freely” — began singing when he was 7 years-old, took up ‘ukulele at nine and began studying the centuries-old art of slack key guitar at 11, learning from the great Hawaiian masters. He quickly gained the reputation as the youngest virtuoso of the tradition and has evolved his own dynamic, high-octane style, coined “Slack Rock,” infused with elements of bluegrass, rock, and blues.

Makana’s music transcends the cultural to explore universally relevant themes through his people’s anthems like “We are the Many” (“Occupy Anthem” — Rolling Stone) and “Fire is Ours.” He is highly active in supporting community and environmental initiatives, and serves as a cultural ambassador of Hawaii, building bridges of peace and friendship through his art.

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 forebears, 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.

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Makana’s concerts are slated at 7 p.m. March 7 and 2 p.m. March 8 at the Kahilu Theatre.

Tickets are $65/$35 and can be purchased online at www.kahilutheatre.org, by calling 885-6868 or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road in Waimea.

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