Wielding his ukulele like it will one day rule the world, 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 on his simple four-stringed instrument. Captivated by his expertise 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 the ukulele. Kalei’s 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 said, “Kalei's music and ukulele prowess will take the ukulele to new heights!”
Kalei’s adventure with the ukulele began in Hawaii’s sleepy North Shore town of Haleiwa. At the age of 13, ukulele lessons took center stage while a baseball injury forced Kalei to take a one year break from his favorite sport. According to Kalei, after the first strum, he was hooked. He quickly excelled, and over the next several years studied and performed with a wide variety of ukulele masters including Alfredo Canopin, Gordon Mark, Byron Yasui, Bryan Tolentino, Herb Ohta, Jr., Benny Chong and Kimo Hussey, who encouraged him to embrace a broad range of styles - jazz, rock, pop, classical, blues, flamenco, funk, as well as the music of his cultural roots, Hawaiian and island contemporary.
Kalei’s debut instrumental album, “Contemporary Ukulele,” in 2008, attracted a lot of attention and he soon found himself performing all over Hawaii, Japan and Thailand, which exposed him to thousands of ukulele enthusiasts. His second release, “Redefined,” in 2012, garnered two Na Hoku Hanohano nominations, “Ukulele Album of the Year,” for Kalei, and “Engineer of the Year” for producer Bob St John of Neos Productions. The excitement about “Redefined” kicked his schedule up another notch, and he found himself performing in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines in addition to a busy Hawaii schedule which included appearances at Honolulu’s Ukulele Picnic and Ukulele Festival. In 2013 Kalei once again teamed up with Bob St John for his first holiday release, the Na Hoku Hanohano award nominated, “Merry Ukulele Christmas,” an acoustic collection of twelve spirited holiday instrumentals. More traveling ensued in 2014 and 2015 as Kalei added China, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Western United States to his touring repertoire, growing his fan base even further. 2016 kicked off with Kalei and Taimane Gardner teaming up for West Coast performances, and wrapping up his newest album with Neos Productions, “These Moments,” a collection of superb originals and formidable pop favorites,
In less than a dozen years, Kalei's passion and dedication to his craft helped bring the diverse sounds of the ukulele into the twenty first century. Today he thrills audiences of all ages while he inspires the next generation of players to dream of one day playing just like him. Given his determination, Kalei and his unassuming ukulele are positively poised to take over the world.