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The Music Man

Rising star Duncan Kamakana shows off the sound of Hawai‘i.

Duncan Kamakana

It’s not every day that an aspiring musician makes it to national television, especially when he happens to be from the homey Honolulu neighborhood of Pālolo Valley. That was the case for Duncan Kamakana, who made his way onto the NBC hit The Voice this year. Dubbed “the folk singer from Hawai‘i,” the Kamehameha grad scored a well-deserved spot on Adam Levine’s team. Though victory wasn’t his to take home, he still came away a winner in the eyes of his fans at home. “They told me, ‘You did Hawai‘i proud,’” he says humbly.

Given his confident, self-assured sound—a surprisingly mature one for a singer of just 25—it’s no surprise to learn that music runs in the family. His father just happens to be Jon Osorio, the musician turned scholar known for “Hawaiian Eyes,” the hit song that’s still heard regularly on island airwaves. In fact, after Kamakana’s run on The Voice, father and son performed the tune for an excited crowd at the Mele Mei extravaganza at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

And just like his dad—not to mention, his role model, John Mayer—Kamakana has penned a number of songs of his own, showing off the skills that he’s been honing over the past few years. (A few breakup songs are in his repertoire.) It’s clear that he’s paid his dues. In fact, he’s diligently worked at his music career in San Francisco, Portland and, finally, Detroit. Interestingly enough, it was only after he returned home and took up gigs in Waikīkī that he was spotted by an industry insider and given an audition for the NBC hit. “I’m surprised that things have worked out so well,” he says in retrospect.

So, what’s next on Kamakana’s hit list? First, his debut album, which will hit stores right in time for the holidays. Then, rest assured, local fans will get to hear this voice on stages across the islands soon after.

Kamakana’s Hots
Flying, new places,good food, performing, playing sports

Kamakana’s Nots
Traffic, long lines, 90-plus- degree weather, small-minded people, salads