Robert Cazimero and Kuana Torres Kahele are scheduled to perform an evening of Hawaiian music and dance Oct. 9 at the Edmonds Performing Arts Center. (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Robert Cazimero and Kuana Torres Kahele are scheduled to perform an evening of Hawaiian music and dance Oct. 9 at the Edmonds Performing Arts Center. (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Award-winning Hawaiian musicians play the ‘friendship card’

Solo artists Robert Cazimero and Kuana Torres Kahele became a duo after the pandemic hit. You can hear them Oct. 9 in Edmonds.

Robert Cazimero and Kuana Torres Kahele are solo artists, but COVID-19 inspired them to form a duo.

The award-winning musicians have been performing a show of Hawaiian music and dance for about two years. While visiting the Seattle area, they’ll perform Oct. 9 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

“Robert and I are really good friends, more so now since the pandemic,” Kahele said. “There are a lot of similarities in our musical work. The more we got back out there, the more we found ourselves doing (music) with each other.

“We’re using that friendship card as much as we can.”

Cazimero, 72, sings tenor and plays the piano, while Kahele, 43, sings falsetto and is on the upright bass. As they perform, Alaka’i Lastimado, one of Cazimero’s star hula students, and Miss Aloha Hula Tehani Gonzado, will be dancing hula.

“It’s Hawaiian music and hula because one cannot exist with out the other,” Kahele said. “All of our stories, all of our legends are in our songs. When you pair the two together, you get the story by ear, you get the story visually via the hula dancer.”

Cazimero, of Honolulu, released more than 30 albums with Brothers Cazimero. When his brother Roland died in 2017, Robert picked up where he left off in his solo career.

The Cazimeros performed with the Hawaiian folk group The Sunday Manoa from 1969 to 1975, before forming their brotherly Hawaiian musical duo, with Robert on bass and Roland on guitar.

The brothers was instrumental in bringing back Hawaiian music and dance during the Second Hawaiian Renaissance, which began around 1970.

“My parents never taught us to speak Hawaiian because they said it would benefit us all more if we spoke English,” Cazimero said. “Being Hawaiian wasn’t as important. We gave up a lot of that culture when the United States had taken over.”

The Brothers Cazimero won 25 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, Hawaiian music’s equivalent to the Grammys. Robert and Roland also received individual Hoku Awards as solo artists.

The brothers helped record “Broken Promise,” a Hawaiian song of protest, which won two Hoku Awards — Song of the Year and Single of the Year — in 1992.

The Cazimeros’ album “Some Call It Aloha … Don’t Tell” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hawaiian Music Album in 2005. Robert and Roland Cazimero were inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

The Cazimero Brothers were also featured on the soundtrack for the made-for-TV documentary “Over Hawaii” in 2012.

“I’m grateful every day that I’m still here,” Cazimero said. “I have been doing a solo stint for a while. Now Kuana and I are working together. It’s fun to have a person to play and to sing with (again).”

Kahele, from Hilo, is best known for helping to found the Hawaiian music group Na Palapalai. He sings original and standard Hawaiian music, playing such instruments as the ukulele, guitar, ipu and bass. Most of the songs are in the Hawaiian language.

In addition to Na Palapalai, Kahele performed with the groups Johnny Lum Ho and Akoni and Da Palapalai Patch before launching his solo career in 2010.

Several Na Palapalai albums charted in the top five on the Billboard Top World Albums. The group also won seven Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, including Hawaiian Album of the Year, Group of the Year and Hawaiian Language.

His first solo album, “Kaunaloa” reached No. 2 on the Top World Albums Chart and won Kahele five Hoku Awards, including Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year for “Na Vaqueros.”

Kahele has released several charting solo albums since, and in 2014 released two volumes from his “Music for the Hawaiian Islands” series.

He also is the voice of the lead character in “Lava,” an animated short by Pixar, which was released in 2015 alongside Disney-Pixar’s “Inside Out.” Kahele portrayed Uku, a lonely volcano in the Pacific Ocean. He sings the song in the short, also titled “Lava.”

Cazimero and Kahele are also teachers. In addition to teaching Hawaiian cultural workshops around the world, Kahele runs the Kuana School of Hawaiian Music & Culture in Japan. Cazimero has been teaching hula at Halau Na Kamalei o Lililehua since 1975.

It’s why Cazimero and Kahele like to bring hula dancers with them to their performances.

“We found a new niche,” Kahele said. “Our music sounds wonderful together — it pairs very nicely. We are currently riding that wave.”

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com; @sarabruestle.

If you go

Robert Cazimero and Kuana Torres Kahele will perform an evening of Hawaiian music and dance 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Edmonds Center for the Arts, 401 Fourth Ave. N., Edmonds. With them on stage will be Alaka’i Lastimado and Miss Aloha Hula Tehani Gonzado. Tickets are $35-$50. VIP tickets are $99. Call 425-275-9595 or go to www.ec4arts.org.

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