Stephen Inglis

Stephen Inglis is recognized as one of the most diverse artists in Hawaii today. Equally at home on the acoustic and electric guitar, the art of Ki Ho’alu (Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar) has been at the heart of his music in recent years. Stephen’s composition “Redwood Slack Key” was featured on the Grammy nominated and Na Hoku Hanohano award winning album, “Hawaiian Slack Key Kings Volume 2” in 2009. Stephen’s music has been featured in Film and TV with Hawaii NBC affiliate KHON’S Hawaii’s Saint Damian: A journey of Sacrifice” among recent projects. His 2010 album Slackin’ on Dylan, won a Hawaii Music Award for Folk Album of the year. Stephen has also contributed guitar work to albums by renowned artists such as Kenneth Makuakane and has toured with Slack Key Masters Dennis Kamakahi, Ozzie Kotani, Cindy Combs, Makana and Hawaiian Music Legends The Makaha Sons. Stephen was born and raised in the beautiful valley of Palolo, on the island of O‘ahu. He found music in his life initially through the piano, when at the age of 5 he performed on stage with the founder of the Suzuki method. Stephen’s musical life continued with the Honolulu Boy Choir from age seven to nine. In his teens, the piano was quickly replaced by guitar, during which time Stephen played with local favorites Red Session, Palolo Jones and The Grateful Dead’s Bill Kreutzmann.

In 2002 Stephen left Hawaii and moved to the Bay area for some mainland experience, an experience that ultimately grew his love for ki ho‘alu (slack key guitar) and new appreciation of his island home. His first album release Fringes on the Wayside shared his singer/songwriter side that eventually evolved, showing his island roots in his second release Driftwood and utilizing more slack key tunings on guitar. After the release of Driftwood, it was clearly time for Stephen to return home to Hawai‘i. Upon return, Stephen was introduced to Slack Key master Ozzie Kotani, who became Stephen’s kumu (teacher). Under Ozzie’s guidance, Stephen quickly gained recognition in Hawai’i as a strong talent in the traditional style performing locally and nationally as a solo artist, while also performing with Ozzie, Makana, and other Honolulu artists. Now deeply rooted back in Hawaii and the slack key tradition, Stephen’s latest release on ‘Aumakua Records entitled Mahina O Waialae “…evokes memories of Keola Beamer and establishes his credentials as an artist who can sing in the old island style as well” (John Berger, Honolulu Star Bulletin). Mahina O Wai‘alae was recorded to honor Stephen’s island home of O‘ahu with many mele (songs) about places, love stories and experiences on O‘ahu. Mahina O Wai‘alae was released October 2007 with an all island tour following.

2008 was the release of Na Po Makole, a piano and slack key duet album by S&S. (Shawn Livingston Moseley and Stephen Inglis) This year also marked Stephen’s return to Electric guitar joining Honolulu Rock Icons the Piranha Brothers Band. SI plays 20 some odd shows a month with the P.B.B. Stephen’s fourth album, Live at Ward’s Rafters was released in December 2009. His fifth solo album, Slackin’ on Dylan was released in August 2010 winning the Hawai’i Music Award for Folk Album of the year and garnering a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Nomination as well. In the late summer of 2011, legendary Hawaiian composer and slack key guitarist Dennis Kamakahi met with his friend and student Stephen Inglis to go over a few songs. Dennis was to be a guest artist on a solo album by Inglis. After hearing Stephen’s composition Nā Pua O Kalaupapa, the two discovered more and more mutual connections with friends and ‘ohana at Kalaupapa. The late composer/activist Bernard Punikai’a was a close friend of Dennis and Stephen and two of his songs were chosen to record. Inspired by the theme the album was taking on, Dennis composed two new songs about Kalaupapa. At this point it was clearly no longer a solo record and the duo’s first joint effort; Waimaka Helelei was born. Dennis and Stephen have a busy touring schedule in 2012 to promote their new album, both in Hawai’i and the continental U.S.

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