If anyone could be described as having “Hawaiian heart and soul,” it would indeed be Ryan Kamakakehau Fernandez. Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, this 6 week old African American infant was adopted by Robyn Naeʻole and brought to the shores of Maui, Hawaiʻi. It is here that his new family and home shaped “Kamaka” into one of Hawaiʻi’s newest and most refreshing talents.
Kamaka’s education played a huge part in his love and appreciation for the Hawaiian culture and music. He is a graduate of the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (Kula Kaiapuni, King Kekaulike High School) and is proud to be a fluent speaker of the Hawaiian language.
As he studied – and lived – Hawaiian culture and language, a new-found love emerged from within as he became enamored with the ʻukulele and the art of leo kiʻekiʻe (falsetto) singing. He was the 2003 winner of falsetto legend Richard Hoʻopiʻiʻs Falsetto contest, (part of the annual Aloha Festivals celebrations) and from that point on, Kamaka continued to astonish audiences with the range of his voice, the strum of his ʻukulele, and his heart…which is truly Hawaiian. As Kamaka states… “I love my mom, my ‘ohana, my friends and this wonderful culture that I was lucky enough to be immersed in. Hawaiʻi is my heart and soul.”
He has performed on numerous prestigious stages within the State of Hawaiʻi, including the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s Celebration of the Arts, the Castle Theater at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Oahu’s Keiki Hula Festival, the Tahiti Fete, and the Grand Hyatt Kauaʻi, as well as stages in the continental United States and Japan.
Kamakakehau was one of the featured performers on the 2004 “Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contest Winners – Vol. 5” CD; he was the 2012 winner of 4th Annual Kani Ka Pila Grille Talent Search; and he worked with multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano (Hawai'i's version of the Grammys) award-winning producer Dave Tucciarone on his debut solo album "Wahi Mahalo," for which Kamakakehau won a 2013 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award!