Kalei Gamiao mesmerizes audiences with imaginative musicality and flawless execution. This soft spoken young man can silence a talkative crowd as he delicately picks or fires away at his simple four-stringed instrument. Captivated by his skill and the ukulele’s versatility, expressions like “I was floored” or “he had me at the edge of my seat” are familiar responses from first time listeners who eagerly fall under the power of Kalei’s ukulele. His ability to create sounds that are incredibly rich and full are even more amazing when you consider he only has two octaves to work with. Award winning ukulele master, Herb Ohta, Jr., summed it up best when he declared, “Kalei's music and ukulele prowess will take the ukulele to new heights!”
Kalei’s been at the forefront of today’s ukulele revolution since 2008 when his debut album, “Contemporary Ukulele,” kicked up the demand for performances in the U.S., Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, exposing Kalei to hundreds of thousands of ukulele enthusiasts. Social media sites and the web provide instant access for his fans to stay connected to his music, performance calendar, and the explosive world-wide popularity of the ukulele.
“Music has the power to change the world. I’m just a messenger.” Kalei supports his belief in the power of music by actively promoting charitable organizations like the Music for Life Foundation which raises funds to provide musical instruments to Hawaii’s schools, and by offering ukulele workshops to students, in the same way in which he was mentored.
From Hawaii’s sleepy North Shore town of Haleiwa, Kalei’s adventure with the ukulele began at the age of thirteen when he suffered a sports injury while playing baseball and needed to find an activity which would keep him busy while he recovered. Following a suggestion made by his parents he decided to try ukulele lessons. After the first strum, Kalei was hooked. His exposure to a wide variety of ukulele masters including Alfred Canopin, Gordon Mark, Byron Yasui, Benny Chong and Kimo Hussey, motivated him to embrace a range of styles - jazz, rock, pop, classical, blues, flamenco, funk, as well as the music of his cultural roots, Hawaiian and island contemporary. In less than a dozen years, Kalei's passion and dedication to his craft helped bring the ukulele sound into the twenty first century as he thrilled audiences and inspired the next generation of players to dream of one day playing just like him. With the release of his second album “Redefine” in 2012 and latest album “Ukulele Christmas” in 2013 and given Kalei's determination, the unassuming ukulele just may take over the world.
“Throughout my years of playing ukulele I've had the honor of playing and trying out many amazing instruments but Kamaka Ukulele is my instrument of choice. There are many factors that make up a great instrument but what matters most is finding the one that is right for you. The feel, intonation, bracing, size, and tone woods, are very important but what is even more important is how the instrument responds to your playing. Kamaka Ukuleles does everything I need an ukulele to do. It doesn't matter if I'm playing my stocked HF-3 tenor, Cedar Deluxe Tenor, or my custom. Kamaka Ukuleles fits my playing style better than any other ukulele. Build quality is also extremely important. As a touring musician, I need an instrument that can handle sudden changes in climate, temperature, and humidity. I've never had a single problem with any of my ukuleles while on the road. Cracks on the finishing and body, bridge lifting, warped soundboards, inlays falling out, fret wire popping out of the fret board, intonation problems, can all be disastrous while on the road but I can honestly say that I have never experienced any of these problems while on tour. I put my ukuleles through a lot and they have never let me down. Kamaka Ukulele are built to last for generations. Although Kamaka Ukulele is the best ukulele for me it doesn't necessarily mean it will be the best ukulele for everyone. I always encourage everyone to try out as many brands of ukuleles as they can because every person has different instrument needs. Take your time when choosing the instrument that is right for you. I am not a sponsored Kamaka artist. I've had many sponsorship offers from different companies but in the end its about what you want to play and not about what people are willing to give you for free. All that I can say through personal experience is that there is something special about Kamaka Ukulele. 2016 marks Kamaka Ukulele's 100th anniversary. I am proud and honored to play such fine instruments.”