John and Hope Keawe

Main Stage
Sunday, May 6, 2:00 pm

Title of latest album: Play With Me Papa

Genre: Hawaii; Slack Key; Acoustic
Homestead Productions; December 21, 2010
List price: $16

The album: Through the years, I’ve enjoyed writing songs about many different subjects and “hopefully” have learned how to better craft a song. People sometimes ask, how would you describe your music, what style is it or what audience are you trying to target? To be truthful, those thoughts never enter my mind. I don’t try to analyze my music or question it. I’m just grateful that the Lord provides these thoughts and ideas and makes them accessible to me. I write what I feel in my heart and what I hear in my head. That’s it! Simply said, “It is what it is!”

I truly hope you enjoy listening to these compositions as much as I enjoy sharing them with you.

Mahalo ~~ John

I dedicate this CD in memory of my good buddy and life long friend, Wayne “Dobo” Francisco.


 “Johnny McElree … quickly discovered John Keawe, one of the most talented songwriters and master slack-key guitarists in the Hawaiian Islands, and a Grammy and multi Na Hoku Hano Hano award winner. … John continues to spread his music and message of Aloha around the world, most recently completing a short tour in Japan.  He is often accompanied by his beautiful wife, Hope, who performs graceful hula interpretations of his songs, adding another magical layer to already wonderful performances.  … Their nine grandchildren also frequent the stage with him, singing back-up or dancing hula with their tutu (grandma).”

Hawaii Luxury Listings

“I’ve said it before, and I see no reason to change my opinion – John Keawe, despite being a Hoku award winner, is one of the most underrated musicians in the state. This new CD from the North Kohala slack key artist is his best yet. … Although his guitar playing deservedly gets him the most praise, Keawe is a fine singer with a winsome tenor voice.”

Wood Song Acoustics

John Keawe is a songwriter and slack-key guitarist who was born on the Big Island of Hawaii, in the little town of Hawi in North Kohala. John grew up with rock and roll music and was drawn to the sound of Hawaiian slack-key when he returned to his home after a four-year tour in the Navy. He listened and watched and taught himself to play this style of music. Through the years, he has developed his own distinct style.

About the same time, John began to perform publicly and also composing his own songs. Two of his early compositions “Ka`auhuhu Homestead” and “Big Island Magic” were chosen for album cuts on projects that involved various artists.

Of all his recordings, seven were nominated for Na Hoku HanoHano Awards (which is the local music awards). The CD “Ho`onanea” won that award in 1994 for best instrumental performance. At the 1998 Hawaii Music Awards, John won best slack-key artist for his” Mana`olana” CD. In 2003 , John received a Hawaii Music Award for “Aloha Kaikua`ana.” He also won a Hoku Award for Ki-ho`alu which is a special award given to an artist for perpetuating the art of slack-key guitar. In 2005, John was honored as a contributing artist on Hawaii’s first Grammy Award for Best Hawaiian Music Album titled “Slack-key Guitar Vol. 2″ by Palm Records. 2009 was a monumental year in John’s career as he was the recipient of the first Na Hoku Hano Hano Award for Slack-Key Album of the Year for the CD”Hawai`i Island…Is My Home.” With his tenth album, “Play With Me Papa,” John received his fourth Na Hoku Hano Hano award for Slack-Key Album of the Year in 2011.

Hope Keawe was born and raised in North Kohala on the Big Island of Hawai`i. Hope met John in 1972 upon his return from the US Navy and they were married on October 20, 1973. She loves music and is active in the music ministry at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. As a child, she took hula lessons for a while and did not take it up again until 1996 under kumu hula Rayleen Lancaster. Since then, Hope has blossomed into an elegant hula dancer and has become an integral part of John’s performances by providing beautiful interpretations of his original compositions as well as traditional Hawaiian songs.

Author’s other titles, publishers, publication dates:

Ho`onanea (Instrumental); Homestead Productions; 1993

Auhele (Instrumental); Homestead Productions; 1994

Mana`olana (Instrumental); Homestead Productions; 1996

Christmas Is (Vocal & Instrumental); Homestead Productions; 1996

Heartfelt Vocal (Original Songs); Homestead Productions; 1999

Aloha Kaikua`ana (Instrumental + 2 vocals); Homestead Productions; 2002

Keaweualani (Vocal & Instrumental); Homestead Productions; 2003

Beautiful Hula Dancer (Vocal & Instrumental); Homestead Productions; 2006

Hawai`i Island… Is My Home (Vocal & Instrumental); Homestead Productions; 2008

John Keawe – Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Musician on BITV

Keawe both playing and singing to “Sweet Kona Sunset.”

Hope, John and their granddaughters performing.


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