The Best Musical Artists From Hawaii

Over 400 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Musical Artists From Hawaii
Voting Rules
Only artists born or raised in Hawaii or bands formed in Hawaii.

Here are the best artists and bands from Hawaii. Despite Hawaii's small size in comparison to other states, it has made some major contributions to the music industry. For example, the styling of the slack-key guitar is recognizable no matter where you live around the globe. The state has also impacted the country music genre with the introduction of the steel guitar, which can be heard in dozens of classic songs. One thing is certain. When you look at the best musical artists from Hawaii, you never know what you might get. 

From folk artists to rock bands, Hawaii has an incredibly diverse roster of artists to call its own. All of the artists on this list were either born in the state or raised there at some point in their childhoods. Don Ho's song "Tiny Bubbles" was a smash hit upon its release. All of the members of the band Iration came from Hawaii, and now, they play their smooth, reggae beats for audiences to enjoy worldwide. Other popular Hawaii artists include Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, Jack Johnson, and Hoku.

Even if you come from the mainland, you will find artists here you adore. Determining who the most famous Hawaii musical artists are is entirely in your hands. It is up to you to decide who the biggest kahuna of them all is. 

Most divisive: Danny Barcelona
Ranked by
  • Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
    Music of Hawaii, Reggae, Jazz
    139 votes
    • Albums: Alone in IZ World, Over The Rainbow, N Dis Life, Facing Future, E Ala Ē

    As a symbol of Hawaiian pride and cultural resurgence, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's powerful voice resonated throughout the islands and beyond. His emotive renditions of traditional songs, as well as his unique fusion of reggae and jazz, propelled him to global fame and cemented his place in Hawaiian music history. Best known for his hauntingly beautiful rendition of "Over the Rainbow," Israel's monumental artistic impact is recognized by many, even long after his untimely passing.

  • The virtuosic guitar playing of Ledward Kaapana has captured the hearts of countless fans around the world since his musical journey began decades ago. Hailing from a family of gifted musicians, Ledward's mastery of slack-key guitar and ukulele seamlessly blended into a soul-stirring expression of Hawaiian culture. With numerous accolades and awards to his name, this legendary musician continues to inspire future generations through his enchanting melodies and innovative performances.

  • Don Ho
    Pop music, Music of Hawaii, Traditional pop music
    75 votes
    • Albums: Hawaii's Greatest Hits, Tiny Bubbles, Greatest Hits!, Hawaiian Favorites, Don Ho Gold

    Few entertainers have left such an indelible mark on Hawaiian culture as the iconic Don Ho, whose legendary status persists even decades after his death. Responsible for some of the most memorable tunes in Hawaiian music history, Don's smooth crooning and charismatic stage presence endeared him to locals and tourists alike. His distinctive style and timeless hits like "Tiny Bubbles" continue to stir nostalgia in the hearts of many, reaffirming his timeless place in the annals of Hawaiian music.

  • Jack Johnson
    Indie pop, Tropical rock, Pop music
    87 votes
    • Albums: In Between Dreams, Sleep Through the Static, On and On, En Concert, To the Sea

    Surfer-turned-singer-songwriter Jack Johnson has become a household name through his laid-back acoustic tunes and heartfelt lyrics. Drawing inspiration from his Hawaiian upbringing, Jack's music resounds with themes of love, nature, and simplicity. His philanthropic endeavors, including various environmental initiatives, further solidify his status as a vital figure hailing from the Aloha State.

  • Eddie Kamae
    Music of Hawaii
    25 votes
    • Albums: Eddie Kamae & Friends

    As a true innovator and pioneer in Hawaiian music, Eddie Kamae is renowned for his skillful ukulele playing and his role in revitalizing traditional music in the islands. Founding member of the influential Sons of Hawaii, Eddie's dedication to preserving and promoting native culture through film and music remains an ongoing testament to his love for his homeland. His unyielding commitment to Hawaii's musical heritage has garnered him worldwide respect and admiration.

  • Cecilio & Kapono

    Cecilio & Kapono

    53 votes

    As a dynamic musical duo, Cecilio Rodriguez and Henry Kapono forged a new path for Hawaiian music, blending harmonious vocals with acoustic guitar to create a signature sound. Their timeless ballads and breezy tunes resonated with island residents and visitors alike, securing their place among Hawaii's most beloved artists. With a legacy spanning decades, Cecilio & Kapono's contributions continue to inspire musicians today.