Masters of Hawaiian Music Credit: Shane A. Tegarden

George Kahumoku Jr., Nathan Aweau, and Kawika Kahiapo are masterful slack-key guitarists whose music embodies Hawaiian traditions, and between the three of them, they certainly have the accolades and awards to prove it—Kahumoku, for instance, is a four-time Grammy winner. Their six- and 12-string skills are unquestionable, and between their playing and their distinct ways of incorporating Hawaiian culture into their music, they’ve each fashioned a niche as viable singer-songwriters. Kahumoku is devoted to keeping indigenous Hawaiian music going strong, and in addition to his albums and performances, he’s taught, appeared in music documentaries, and written books to spread the slack-key gospel (and in 2015, he performed a duet with Tia Carrere on the revived Hawaii Five-O television show). Aweau is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist with an extensive background as a jazz bassist. In addition to mastering the slack-key style, Kahiapo has applied the same fingerings to the ukulele, and has a repertoire that’s equally influenced by his Christian spirituality and by the Hawaiian music he grew up around—he was first inspired to try his hand at slack-key guitar when influential Hawaiian guitarist and family friend Gabby Pahinui would drop by his garage for jam sessions.   v