Concerts from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

JULY 5, 2017, 12:00 PM, No Tickets Required

Ledward KaapanaLedward Kaapana

Coolidge Auditorium

Ledward "Led" Kaapana is a master of the two leading string instruments in Hawaii: the Hawaiian ukulele and ki ho'alu, the slack key guitar, a fingerstyle guitar art form that originated in Hawaii. This talent, combined with his vocal skills in the baritone and leo ki`eki`e (falsetto) range, have made him a legendary performer who has been entertaining audiences in Hawaii and abroad for more than 40 years.  He was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011.

Kaapana grew up in Kalapana in the southernmost district of Hawaii Island in a family of musicians. His teachers included his mother, Mama Tina Kaapana, from whom he learned to sing leo ki`eki`e, and his uncle, Fred Punahoa. "We didn't have electricity, not television, not even much radio," says Kaapana. "So we entertained ourselves. You could go to any house and everybody was playing music."

Over the course of his career, Kaapana has dedicated himself to perpetuating the traditional style and repertoire of his home village, beginning in his teens when Kaapana and his twin brother Nedward and cousin Dennis Pavao formed the musical group Hui Ohana. The group produced 14 best-selling albums, made hundreds of live appearances, and became a key figure in the resurgence of traditional Hawaiian culture and music during the 1970s.  Kaapana later formed the trio I Kona.  A prolific recording artist, Kaapana has earned 4 Grammy nominations in his own right and 2 wins on slack key compilation albums. 

Kaapana has worked with Nashville musicians Dolly Parton and Chet Atkins and collaborated with Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, and other bluegrass musicians for Waltz of the Wind. In addition, Kaapana has recorded with numerous renowned Hawaii musicians, including NEA National Heritage Fellows Aunty Genoa Keawe and the Ho'opi'i Brothers and Barney Isaacs.

This concert is part of a series celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the National Heritage Fellowships.  Awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Heritage Fellowships recognize the recipients' artistic excellence and support their continuing contributions to our nation's traditional arts heritage.  The NEA National Heritage Fellowships are considered our nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. 

A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Most concerts are held in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress) or the Whittall Pavilion (next to the Coolidge, on the Ground Floor, Jefferson Building). Occasionally, concerts may be in other locations, which will be specified above in the concert description. Presented in Partnership with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.