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Kala Ukulele endorsing artist RJ Kaneao

Kala Ukulele endorsing artist RJ Kaneao

Thanks to RJ Kaneao for taking time to answer a few questions in my quest to get to know some of the Kala Uke artists better…. I stopped by RJ’s webpage and really enjoyed hearing his music and finding out more about him!

RJ Kaneao Kala Uke artist

Bio (taken from www.rjkaneaomusic.com)

Combining reggae grooves, heartfelt ballads, and Polynesian rhythms, RJ Kaneao's unique blend of contemporary sounds and traditional beats lends to the color of local Hawai'i and Pacific (Polynesian) music. Performing alongside such greats as Don Ho, Melveen Leed, the late Dennis Pavao, Mana'o and Company, Kawao, Fiji, Various Marley's, the late great Braddah IZ Kamakawiwo'ole and many others, RJ has spent much of his life fine tuning the details of island music.


As a Polynesian entertainer traveling the globe with Tihati Productions, RJ's exposure abroad has helped craft his musical style into a much desired local pleasure. Once the musical director for Tihati Productions on the Big Island Chapter, he continues to honor and share his Polynesian heritage with all.

Along with many local artists, RJ Kaneao's influences include Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, John Mayer, Elvis Presley, James Ingram, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Benson and Frank Sinatra. "Weird, huh?!" Not really, considering the eclectic mix of tunes from the catchy lines of "This is 4 My Lady", "Ooh Now Girl", "Sip'n on Wine" (TORU CD) to laid back ballads like "Love You Driving Me Crazy" (LANUI CD). He credits much of his success and musical guidance to his mentor, Kalama Ku Koanui, and his family as inspiration, especially his son, Aaron.

With his fourth release, "Best Of Me", RJ Kaneao highlights his musical inspirations once again and brings his journey back to its roots. Recorded completely in his own studio, "Best Of Me" is a testament not only to RJ's musical gifts but his technical skill behind the boards and as a producer as well. "Best Of Me" is RJ's latest giving of himself back to his listeners, fans, friends and family.

From the relaxing love groove “Babygirl” and “You're Beautiful” to the more upbeat “Just Friends” to the already well requested  smash hit single, “All Night”, RJ shows that he still has a rhythm and step for ladies. The island pop “Ooh Baby” throws down the funk, while “Karakia No Te Atua” (“Best Of Me”) seeks to hold strong the support for struggles of the Polynesian man in today's world. Ending with a smooth R&B ballad, RJ's “I Can't Leave You Alone” is a tribute to the softer and more romantic, heartbroken side of his music. With 14 original tracks in total, RJ Kaneao's "Best Of Me" is the culmination of the creative mind and musical talent of one of Hawaii's hardest working entertainers.

1) Where is home for you at the moment?

“I am in Hawaii for the most part but toggling between flying to L.A. on red-eye flights to get where I need to go. I realize the move is probably something in the near future.”

2) What were your earliest/current musical influences?

“I've pretty much been around music since I was in my mother’s belly…lol. My family has been deeply rooted in music and entertaining when I was a child and as I progressed through my school years. I've been on-stage since I was like about 3-4yrs old but my earliest recollection is probably when I was about 6, so my earliest influence has to be my family. My current musical influences range from musicians, artists, vocalists and just some everyday people. To be able to pull influences and a better understanding of your music and how it runs, indeed, in sync with your life, can bring so much depth into your music.”

3) When did you start playing the Uke?

“As a child I always fiddled around with it, and in Hawaii it’s a normal thing. I started taking it more seriously when I was about 14. But I've been a lead guitarist professionally for about 18 years and from time to time switch it up with ukulele.”

4) What Kala Ukes are you currently playing?

“I am playing a Kala Mahogany cutaway. KA-SMLTE-C”

5) Any current musical projects you would like to tell us about (tours/CD's)?

“I have my two most recently released albums on iTunes and some singles, songs I produced for other artist etc.

“As far as tours, there has been talk, but nothing confirmed, as of yet.”

6) Any question that you wished someone would ask but never has? with answer of course 😉

“Question: What is Music to me, like, what is the definition?

“Answer: to me, music is sharing, giving, expressing, beauty of creativity, but most of all, a giving of pure love.”

You can find RJ at  www.rjkaneaomusic.com



As I have mentioned in previous interviews, I greatly enjoy the diversity and talent among Kala Ukulele artists. Kala has some world class (and world traveled) musicians playing their Ukuleles. I hope some of these guys/gals make it to Atlanta so I can meet them in person! 🙂

Beaches and blessings,

Bry Harris

Kala Ukulele Artist


Kala Uke Artist Bry Harris