Uncle Willie K. : A Man And His Music©2005JCMarion

The renown Hawaiian musical artist known as Uncle Willie K. was brought up in Lahaina, Maui, as William Awihilima Kahaiali'i. He became a force on the musical scene in the islands in the year of 1990. He had what is called a top notch musical "pedigree" as his father Manu Kahaiali'i was a famous and respected Hawaiian musician. Willie K. started out as a young boy playing with his brothers in a local band headed by his father. By the time he was in his teenage years, he played with a number of small bands in and around his home in Lahaina. After his school years he tried his hand at making it as a musician on the mainland, mostly in the San Francisco area. Willie's time in San Francisco was a time of learning how to present his talent and developing his unique style. He returned to his roots after a few years on the mainland and brought back with him a new determination to be true to his talent.


He hooked up with a company called Round Island Records and his breakthrough was a CD collection entitled "Kahiali'i". He was rewarded for his efforts with three wins at the annual Na Hoku Hanohano celebration. He won for Most Promising Artist, Album Of The Year, and Best Contemporary Album Of The Year. The albums "Here's My Heart" and "Out Of The Blue" followed. By the mid nineties he teamed up with singer Amy Gilliom, and one of Hawaiian music's most popular duos was born. The two of them had great success for the rest of the decade and made Willie K. a household name in the music field. In 1999, Willie recorded a number of songs for a new solo album of Christmas songs and "Willie Kalikimaka" was released to great acclaim that year. Two highlights from that CD are Willie's version of "Oh Holy Night" and a duet with country legend Willie Nelson on the song "Away In A Manger". This CD enjoyed phenomenal sales for a Hawaiian album becoming the top seller in the state.


The following year, Willie celebrated the first year of the new century by the release of "The Uncle In Me" a retrospective of his music over the years, a sort of Willie K.'s greatest hits. Included in this release are songs such as "Molokai Woman" (with sparkling ukulele playing), "Here's My Heart", "Katchi Katchi Music ", "Appleberry Hill", "Waterfall" (Willie's take on Jimi Hendrix), and "Spirits In The Wind". In 2001, Willie announced that he and Amy Gilliom were parting ways and that he would pursue a solo career and began by starting his own music and entertainment corporation to be called "Maui Tribe Productions". The album "Awihilima : Reflections" presented Willie performing a number of traditional Hawaiian songs and pays tribute to those who influenced his musical direction such as his father Manu, and Gabby "Pops" Pahinui. Some songs from this release are "Ke Ala O Ka Rose", "Holoholo Ka'a", "Meleana E", and "No Moku Ehu". The album "Live At Hapa's" recorded at Willie's favorite club in Kihei, Maui, features seventeen tracks on two CDs of songs that mostly have never been recorded previously. It is a treasure trove of wonderful and diverse music by this most talented performer. Among the songs on this album are "Indigenous Nation", "The Thrill Is Gone", "My Home Town", "Rock-A-Doo", and "Is This Love?".


Recently, Willie K. and Amy Gilliom have rejoined forces with a tour of the Western mainland, and a live CD from that tour. Willie however will continue to expand his musical horizons and try new arrangements and presentations of his music, all while he maintains the traditions and history of the music of Hawaii.


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