2024 International ‘Ukulele Festival of Hawai’i Musicians

From Hawai’i

  • Raiatea Helm
    Raiatea Mokihana Maile Helm is an authentic Hawaiian singer from Molokaʻi, Hawaiʻi who is known for her powerful vocals accompanied by an authentic `ukulele strum. She has played for audiences around the world, places including China, Tahiti, Japan, and Okinawa.
    It is no surprise her hard work and dedication for preserving the authentic Hawai’ian culture has landed her several prestigious awards including 2 Grammy nominations, Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Fellowship, and numerous Nā Hōku Hanohano Awards. Raiatea has garnered international success as well as being one of Hawaiʻi’s premiere female vocalists.
  • Jake Shimabukuro

    With only four strings, JAKE SHIMABUKURO is a humble master whose mission is to connect and inspire people. Whether one on one or in front of an audience of thousands, Jake shares a deep emotional connection with the listener that is open, magical and transcendent.
    Often referred to as the Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee and Michael Jordan of his craft, Jake delivers performances around the world with an out-of-the-box blend of stunning virtuosity, deep musicality and a natural entertainer’s flair.

    Jake the ukulele to places no one has gone before, performing awe inspiring music that ranges from jazz, blues, and rock to bluegrass, class ical, and folk.

    Official website: https://www.jakeshimabukuro.jp/
  • Jody Kamisato

    Jody Kamisato was born on Christmas Day, December 25, 1977, in Honolulu, Hawai`i. Music has been an integral part of Jody’s upbringing. At just seven years of age, Jody’s elementary school teacher gave Jody his first `ukulele lesson. At the age of eight, he began performing with the Honolulu Boy Choir. During the next five years he had the opportunity to travel all over the United States, record on an album, and sing on several national T.V. shows as well as commercials.

    As a member of the “BS Band” with Bruce Shimabukuro and Gary Akiona, they performed throughout Hawai`i and toured Japan on numerous occasions to do live shows and `ukulele workshops. In 2005 Jody’s original song “Ainakoa” was selected for “Aloha Tofu’s” official commercial song. In spring of 2006 the “BS Band” released their first album entitled “Incognito.” Later that year, Jody completed his first DVD entitled “Island Style Ukulele”.

    In June 2007, Jody opened his own `ukulele school called `Ukulele Hale located in Kaimuki. With a talented and dedicated staff, he foresees a bright and successful future and looks forward to a variety of exciting projects with `Ukulele Hale including community service opportunities, public performances and a future Japan tour.

    Official website: https://ukulelehale.com

  • Honoka
    From ‘Ukulele Hale, Honoka and Azita won the MVP prize as a duo at International ‘Ukulele Contest in 2013, The duo became a sensation in ‘ukulele industry, and performed at many events and concerts around the world. Honoka now pursues her career as a solo artist.
    Brought up in Hawai’i embraced by beauty from the mountain to the sea, Honoka has grown an admiration for the nature that surrounds her. The thoughts, feelings, and memories that nature brings to Honoka are the inspirations behind her music. As she travels the world with her ‘ukulele in hand, Honoka would like to continue sharing her love and passion for music and the aloha spirit.
  • Kala’e Camarillo

    Kala’e Camarillo
    Kala’e Camarillo was born and raised in Kihei, Maui. He is a third generation musician/music educator and is currently teaching at Kapālama Elementary as the school’s music teacher. In 2009, he entered the music scene with his cousin, Dane Lum Ho, when they won the Hawaii state wide “Band Champ” competition, awarding the duo the opening act for two major groups: The Stylistics and America. Today, after three solo releases, he has received 3 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award awards for Contemporary Acoustic Album of The Year, EP of The Year, and Christmas single of the year. He can be found performing regularly at Outrigger Reef’s Kani Ka Pila Grille, White Sands Hotel and Nico’s Pier 38, and often alongside Robi Kahakalau.

    Official HP: https://www.kalaecamarillo.com/about
  • Mika Kane

    Mika Kane
    Mika Kane is a professional ‘ukulele player and Kamaka/Ko’olau artist from O’ahu, Hawai’i. Mika received a Bachelor’s Degree in Music with an ‘Ukulele focus and a Masters Degree in Educational Foundations from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Mentored by many of Hawai’i’s finest musicians, including Dr. Byron Yasui, Benny Chong, Bryan Tolentino, and Ian O’Sullivan, Mika has a prolific background in Classical techniques and interpretation, musical awareness, and music theory with Jazz harmonies. He mostly specializes in fingerstyle playing, adding relevant music theory concepts from his university studies to create a clean, one-of-a-kind sound.

    As an educator following in the footsteps of his mentor Dr. Byron Yasui, Mika recently finished teaching in-person ‘ukulele classes at The Hawai’i Youth Correctional Facility for four (4) years and is currently lecturing in ‘ukulele at The University of Hawai’i West O’ahu and Windward Community College. Mika also teaches private online lessons with students from all over the world. In his free time, he does side work for TheUkuleleSite and UkuleleFriend.

  • Kalei Gamiao

    Kalei’s adventure with the ukulele began at the age of thirteen. His exposure to a wide variety of ukulele masters including Alfred Canopin,Gordon Mark, Byron Yasui, Benny Chong and Kimo Hussey,motivated him to embrace a range of styles – jazz,rock,pop,classical,blues,flamenco,funk,as well as the music of his cultural roots,Hawaiian and island contemporary.

    With 3 completed nominated albums to his name Kalei Gamiao been at the forefront of today’s ukulele revolution since 2008 when his debut album, “Contemporary Ukulele,” kicked up the demand for performances in the U.S market. After the release of his second album entitled “Redefined” in 2012 a greater demand for ore of his music and performances exposed Kalei to hundreds of thousands of ukulele enthusiasts from around the world as he continues to tour countries such as Thailand,Japan,Taiwan,Philippines,Korea,China,Hong Kong,Malaysia,Singapore and the U.S mainland.
    When his third album “Merry Ukulele Christmas” released in 2013 as a seasonal project it propelled and broadened Kalei’s repertoire to new levels as many web and social media sites provide instant access for his fans to stay connected to his music and the explosive world-wide popularity of the ukulele. With the release of his 4th latest album “These Moments” in 2016 he has already traveled and performed in different parts of the world to share his passion for music.

    As a true ukulele virtuoso he sums it up by saying….. “My ukulele expresses every word and emotion. I love to create and share my musical journeys for everyone to enjoy”.

  • Corey Fujimoto
    Born and raised in Hawaii, Corey was immediately hooked on ukulele after picking up the instrument in fourth-grade music class. Corey was influenced by his father, other renowned ukulele virtuosos, and his love for classical music. He transcribed and arranged pieces by Bach, Mozart, and Pachelbel for ukulele – helping pioneer this exploration – which in combination with his traditional Hawaiian influences developed his style. He released his first album of instrumentals, Fables, in 2013, which earned him his first Nā Hōkū Hanohano nomination, and in 2019, he toured in major cities in Asia.
  • Craig Chee & Sarah Maisel
    Even though Craig Chee was born and raised on Oahu, he matured as an ‘ukulele player and musician on the mainland. Throughout attending and graduating from the University of Oregon, Craig focused on teaching a myriad of different styles with the tiny instrument.
    Craig started his learning journey, like many other Hawai’i residents, with friends and the Roy Sakuma ‘Ukulele Studio. He has had the honor of working under Jake Shimabukuro and Troy Fernandez, and has become a world renowned teacher and performer. Craig infuses his energetic and just plain ‘fun’ style into many genres of music and is known for his collaborations at different music events.

    Sarah Maisel was born and raised in Alabama and found herself working in San Diego, CA as the Lead Female Draper for the La Jolla Playhouse and the University of California San Diego. After walking into a local ‘ukulele jam, Sarah was both fascinated by the instrument and the joy that surrounded it. Studying under Frank Leong, Sarah dove into the jazz stylings of golden age Hawai’i songs and arrangements inspired by ‘ukulele legends like Lyle Ritz, Benny Chong and Byron Yasui. Sarah found a passion for teaching and performing with the ‘ukulele and was quickly featured at many ‘ukulele festivals around the world.
    Craig and Sarah discovered a similar passion and work ethic and in 2015, married. They have made an incredible splash in the ‘ukulele scene with their complementing styles and vocal harmonies.
    Their love of teaching has blossomed into a successful Online ‘Ukulele School with Artistworks in 2016. In 2018 they created a monthly series of Live Streams for their ArtistWorks students. Those Livestreams were so popular that they were made available to the public after a few months, and became a new and fun way for them to share their passion for teaching and ‘ukulele with everyone!
    In September of 2020, due to the pandemic and the birth of their son earlier that year, they decided to move home, to Hawai’i. Since moving home they have organized and osted the 51st Ukulele Festival Hawaii, including three mini events leading up to the main day (all virtual 2021). They have also started their own Backyard Concert Series, featuring local musicians. Their monthly livestreams are still on going, as they continue to spread the love of ukulele and teaching to the world.
    In 2023 they set forward on a new venture, founding the nonprofit Four Strings at a Time. Their mission of engaging, educating, and enriching all ages around the world through music and the ‘ukulele has always been at the forefront of everything they do. For their first project, Craig and Sarah produced and directed a Livestream Benefit oncert to help Maui Food Bank. This 6 hour livestream featured over 75 ‘ukulele artists and groups from around the world. Four Strings at a Time were also the fiscal sponsor for the Online Silent Auction created by The Ukulele Site, with both the Concert and Auction bringing in over $135,000 to Maui Food Bank and $40,000 to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s Kāko’o Maui Fund.
    Four Strings at a Time is currently working on their pilot after school ukulele program and look forward to creating more music education opportunities for children and adults.

  • Crossing Rain

    They are a local Hawaii Boy Band with the unique stylings of pop, hip-hop, rap, reggae and R&B. H-POP. Not K-POP, not JPOP, but HAWAII POP! Crossing Rain are recipients of the prestigious “Hawaii’s Favorite Entertainer of the Year 2022 Award” at the 45th Annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

    Born from the aloha and support of their community, Hawai’i based pop group Crossing Rain showcases the diversity of their island home through passionate vocals, mesmerizing harmonies and electrifying choreography. This unique crossing of members’ talents aims to shower the world with inspiration bringing a downpour of positive change and aloha.

From Korea

  • Flat Nine ukulele Jazz Orchestra
    ‘Flat Nine ukulele Jazz Orchestra’ is Korea’s first `ukulele jazz orchestra with `ukulele player Choi Min-seok as conductor and arranger. Founded in 2022, the orchestra has regular concerts every year, playing jazz with special arrangements exclusively for `ukuleles, presenting a new chemistry between jazz and `ukulele.
  • From Japan

    • 1933 ‘Ukulele All Stars

      Special collaboration group is created, and they are called – “`Ukulele All Stars”! The group consists of talented musicians and `ukulele enthusiasts in Japan, led by Boo Takagi. Although he is well known as a member of the Drifters, he has been very passionate about `Ukulele for many years, and loves Hawai’i. About 25 years ago, Boo-san asked `Ukulele Picnic in Hawai’i’s executive producer, Sekiguchi-san, “Can we organize something, like `Ukulele Orchestra?” and that’s how this dream-like group was formed.

      According to Sekiguchi-san, there are two very important criteria to be in this 1933 `Ukulele All Stars – 1) loves `Ukulele, and 2) respects Mr. Boo Takagi with whole heart. Current members are, Yoshio Nomura (very famous Tanokin-Torio member),Yoko Oginome, Kimiko Wakiyama, Yu Hatakeyama, Kazuyuki Sekiguchi, and Boo Takagi.

    • Kazuyuki Sekiguchi(producer)

      Born in Niigata, Japan in 1955. While attending Aoyama Gakuin University, Kazuyuki joined as a bass player in the group “Southern All Stars”. In 1978, the band debut its original music “Katte ni Sindbad”.
      In 1991, Kazuyuki met ‘Ukulele musician Herb Ohta who had been promoting the art of ‘Ukulele throughout Japan by producing books, video and CD’s. Besides performing, Kazuyuki expresses his creativity through novels, essays, and a series of written columns.

    • Boo Takagi
      Born in Sugamo, Tokyo in 1933. In 1964, He Joined “The Drifters (Japanese Band)“ to host one of the legendary and most popular variety shows called “Hachijidayo Zen’inshūgō! (It’s 8 o’clock, Everyone, Gather around!) “ which aired from 1969. As the opening performance of the Beatles’ first concert in 1966 . He has been keeping himself busy in various fields of his many talents, such as album release events and live performances, as well as an instructor for `Ukulele lessons on NHK Educational TV.
    • Yoshio Nomura

      In the early 1980’s, Yoshio Nomura made his debut into stardom as a pop idol with his nickname, Yotchan. He then become a guitarist for the rock-n-roll band Good-bye. His talent as a guitar player led him to join the touring band for Ayumi Hamasaki since 1998.

      Yoshio is known to be a “guitar enthusiast” and has a collection of more than 300 guitars at home. His recent passion has been ukulele. For his first instrumental album titled “`Ukulele for Christmas,” he played all the instruments by himself, featuring techniques to play vintage `ukulele instead of electric guitar.

      He has also produced his own ukulele model. “Usulele” (Usui means ‘thin’ in Japanese) became popular with its uniquely thin design. Several `ukulele producers are now inspired by Yoshio’s creation, and have been distributing their own versions of a thin body `ukulele. In 2020, Yoshio released his second `ukulele album, “`Ukulele Slow Life.”

    • Yoko Oginome

      Since her debut as a singer in 1984, Yoko Oginome has released 42 single songs and 31 albums, including mega-hit singles such as “Dancing Hero”, “Roppongi Junjo-ha”, “Coffee Rhumba” and the album “Non-Stopper” (Number one on the 1987 Oricon album chart). “Dancing Hero” made a come back in 2017, reaching Number 2 on the Billboard Weekly Domestic Chart. In the same year, she won the special prize at the 59th Japan Record Awards (the Japanese equivalent of the Grammys). Her singing career continued to be recognized through other awards, such as the very first “Top Karaoke Song of the Year” and the 32nd Japan Gold Disc Special Award in 2018.

      After 23 years on hiatus, she appeared in a starring role on “Net Utahime” (Internet Diva) on the NHK BS premium channel in 2019, the same year she celebrated her 35th anniversary as an artist.

      In August 2020, Oginome composed “Mushi no Tsubuyaki (Insects’ Tweet)” with her own lyrics. It is a charming tune with the sound of ukulele, which has been enjoyed throughout the nation on NHK’s Minna no Uta (Everyone’s Songs – a long-running program on NHK since 1961). This is her second song to be aired on this program, after “Jungle Dance” (lyrics by Masakazu Mori, song by Tetsuya Komuro) in February, 1988.

    • Kimiko Wakiyama

      International champion whistler. Born in Fukuoka, Japan. Garaduate of Kunitachi University of Music. Kimiko Wakiyama, the champion whistler, who won the women’s crown at the 2007 International Whistlers Convention (IWC 2007) in North Carolina. Wakiyama, can whistle across a range of three octaves, which means almost all vocal music is within her scope. Beautiful feminine sound marks as ” Lovely Tune “. Debut album, ” The Whistling Paradise ” (April 23, Victor Entertainment), was released as the first female solo artist. Without being bound by the general image of whistling, thriving through out TV programs and movies.

      Official website: https://kimikowakiyama.com/
    • Yanagiman
      Yanagiman is from Yakushima, in Kagoshima. He moved to Tokyo in 1997, after having started his music carrier in Fukuoka are for a while. He has been composing and producing several songs to well known artists such as, Ketsumeishi, Funky Monkey Babies, Gosopelers, or Mika Nakajima. He is currently very enthusiastic about regional revitalization project throughout Japan and other countries as well.
    • Yu Hatakeyama

      Yu Hatakeyama was born in Rikuzentakata City in Iwate prefecture. While growing up in Saitama prefecture, she joined brass band with her friends at junior high school. She was introduced to percussion instruments at band practice, and she decided to become a professional percussionist.

      Later, Yu studied at Kunitachi College of Music, majoring in percussion. By the time of her graduation, she was awarded first prize at the Newcomer Concert of the Japan Percussion Instrument Association.

      Yu’s career as a professional percussionist includes appearances as a support musician for Keisuke Kuwata and Tokiko Kato. After releasing her first percussion solo album in 2007, she produced 4 more solo albums. Yu has also released an instrumental DVD, “A Guide for Shifting to Cajón as a Drummer” as a leading Cajón musician in Japan.

      Yu Hatakeyama has promoted many innovative ideas so that “usually behind-the-scenes” instruments, such as percussion, can shine on stage. For example, setting up the percussion instruments front and center on the stage, and organizing a live concert with percussion as the lead instruments. You might also find her at a “Battle Live” with other drummers, or in collaboration with rakugo (traditional Japanese comic storytelling), of which she is a big fan!

    • Tomomi Suzuki

      【‘Ukulele but Pop】 is Tomoki’s theme. Since meeting the `Ukulele in 2013, he has won the Grand Prize at the 8th The `Ukulele Contest (#1 in Japan) in only 2 and a half years. He also has won first place in the International Contest the following year on Oct, 2016. From the gentle sound that touches the heartstrings to his aggressive performance that undermines the image of this small instrument fascinates all those that hear his sound.

      Official website: https://www.suzukitomoki.com/