Kuana Torres Kahele is a Hawaiian composer, educator, choreographer and recording artist born in Hilo, Hawaii. Still under 40, Kuana has gained over 25 years of professional experience in Hula and Hawaiian music having been groomed as a child from famed Hilo kumu, Johnny Lum Ho of Halau Ka Ua Kani Lehua. With his band, Na Palapalai, Kuana helped to revitalize traditional Hawaiian music giving a breath of fresh air to memorable Hawaiian classics.
Known for his original compositions for hula, Kuana recently undertook an unprecedented four year songwriting project to complete an album of new, original music for each of the Hawaiian Islands. His first volume in the series, MUSIC for the HAWAIIAN ISLANDS, honored his island birthplace, Hawaii Keawe. Subsequent volumes in the series, Niihau, Maui, Kaua’I, Lana’I, Molokai have debuted at the top of the Billboard World Music chart. Upon completion, Kuana will have written and recorded over 100 new songs for Hawaii, a historic achievement in Hawaiian music. The final installment, vol. 7 O’ahu releases Spring of 2018.
He gained worldwide notoriety in June 2015, starring as both the narrator and male lead, “UKU”, a lovesick volcano in Disney Pixar’s hit movie, LAVA. Kuana’s theme song from LAVA debuted at #1 on the Billboard Soundtrack chart and remained there for months.
Kuana teaches and performs continuously, taking Hawaiian music and Hawaiian culture workshops to the far reaches of the globe. His hope is to introduce others to the beauty and diversity of Hawaii and its people through music, hula and lei making. The release of his two instructional Lei making DVDs combined with the success of his tutorials featured on YouTube have catapulted the art of Hawaiian Lei making well beyond Hawaii. MAKE LEI I and II have helped thousands of people make Lei no matter where they live in the world. The videos have inspired future lei makers from Russia to Egypt to Hilo.