Famous Female Hawaiian Musicians

The premier music awards in Hawaii, the N Hk Hanohano Awards, began in 1978 to recognize true Hawaiian music. From traditional native Hawaiian folk music to modern rock, hip hop and reggae, Hawaii has made a rich contribution to the music industry with symbolic tunes that celebrate true island life. When visiting Hawaii, the sound of music follows you from the beautiful beaches to the traditional luaus. Today we celebrate Hawaii’s top female musicians who have shaped the music of the Hawaiian Islands and made their mark on the world of music.

Amy Hnaialii Gilliom is Hawaii’s top-selling female vocalist of all time, whose albums have all been at the top of the World Album Billboard Charts and have earned her 17 N Hk Hanohano awards and five GRAMMY® nominations. An Ambassador of Hawaiian Music, her diverse talents, inspired by her grandmother Napua Wood, have seen her record stunning duets with legends such as Willie Nelson and open for others like Carlos Santana and Joe Cocker. Alongside her musical talents, Amy has launched Hnaialii Wines, another award-winning venture.

Teresa Bright’s soulful and sultry voice is unmistakable. A winner of many awards, including the N Hk Hanohano Awards, Teresa was raised in the cradle of native Hawaiian music, singing from the age of 5. Starting her career along with Steve Mai`i`I while in college, she went on to launch her solo career in 1986, releasing her first solo album “Self Portrait” in 1990. Recognized as another of Hawaii’s top singers, Teresa has a huge following in Japan.

Raiatea Helm is as versatile as she is talented! Her debut recording “Far Away Heaven” scooped the prestigious Female Vocalist of the Year and Most Promising Artist Awards at the 2003 Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists Awards Ceremony and again in 2005, also receiving the coveted Favorite Entertainer of the Year Award.  Raiatea made history in 2006 as Hawaii’s first solo female to receive a Grammy nomination for “Sweet and Lovely,” described by the New York Times as “poised and utterly elegant.” Born into a musically talented Molokai Ohana, Raiatea now claims six N Hk Hanohano Awards and her success has launched her onto both the local and international music scene with collaborations with legends of Hawaiian music such as The Brothers Cazimero, establishing her reputation as Hawaii’s premier chanteuse.

Na Leo Pilimehana meaning “voices blending together in warmth,” is the #1 award-winning and biggest-selling female Hawaiian group in the world. Bonded together from childhood, Nalani Choy, Lehua Kalima and Angela Morales run their own record label, composing, recording and performing their own music. Over thirty years, twenty-three albums, twenty-two N Hk Hanohano Awards and their zealous love for music has placed them at the top. Their first hit, “Local Boys” won them a talent contest in 1984 and went on to be the biggest-selling single in Hawaii history.  Today, they are a distinct asset to Hawaiian culture.

Anuhea is a multi-award winning singer and songwriter born and raised on the island of Maui. A leading contemporary female artist, Anuhea released her first album in 2009 which shot to the top of the charts. A self-taught artist inspired by Jack Johnson, India Arie and Nelly Furtado, Anuhea has a folk-indie style that has burst into the national reggae scene.

Aunty Genoa Keawe was one of the most enduring and beloved voices in Hawaiian music, an icon of traditional island music recording twenty albums and over 150 singles. Famous for her soaring falsetto, Aunty Genoa Keawe anchored Hawaiian music culture as we know it today. Let us not forget the true roots of Hawaiian music as we remember Aunty Genoa Keawe who passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home in Papakolea in 2008.