Hailing from the isle of O‘ahu, Makana is an internationally acclaimed slack-key guitarist, singer, composer, philosopher, activist, and one of Hawaii’s cultural ambassadors to the world. He is recognized as one of the top guitarists in the United States by Guitar Player magazine, and was honored by his peers in Hawai‘i with the Ki Ho‘alu (Slack Key) Foundation Legacy Award. His music is featured on the soundtrack for the George Clooney film The Descendants. His songs range from traditional to highly original, both instrumental and lyrical, exploring a broad spectrum of themes: cultural, philosophical, sociopolitical, economic, interpersonal, sensual, and universal, often through the lens of humor and a piercing wit.
Virtuosic and versatile, Makana’s music defies description. His solo performance is an exhilarating ride through the breadth of slack key, folk, rock, bluegrass, ethnic and jazz and his distinctly original songs are infused with the spirit of Hawai‘i. “… he has taken this centuries-old tradition and blasted it into the 21st century…” -- National Geographic
Says Makana: “It's not easy to categorize my music; it crosses multiple genres. Like my kumu (teacher) Uncle Sonny Chillingworth, one of Hawaii's legendary performers: growing up in Hawai'i exposed me to both a melting pot of ethnicities as well as a constant influx of sounds from around the world.”
John Cruz grew up in Hawaii in a home immersed in music; he performed with his father and brothers from a young age. His move to the East Coast in 1983 enabled him to develop his own style as a singer songwriter, performing everywhere from New York’s coffeehouses and bars to clubs and local haunts from Martha's Vineyard to the Boston area. Returning to Hawaii, he released his first album Acoustic Soul in 1996, to artistic and commercial impact. It spawned the radio hits "Shine On," "Sitting in Limbo" and "Island Style," which has become a local anthem known around the world (including President Obama’s iPod songlist) and won two Na Hoku (Hawai‘i’s “Grammy”) Awards. In 2005, John added a Grammy Award to his list of honors, as part of the compilation CD Slack Key Guitar Volume 2, which won the first Grammy ever awarded for Hawaiian music.
John's touring has included Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Summerstage in New York's Central Park, Carnegie Hall and prominent venues up and down both coasts. He played 14 shows at the prestigious SXSW (South by Southwest) music festival. He was named Best Singer Songwriter by Hawaii Magazine in 2008. His 2nd album One of These Days debuted at #2 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and #6 on the Billboard World Chart, earned the Na Hoku Award for Contemporary Album of the Year, and was named one of the "Top 25 Greatest Hawaii Albums of the New Century" by Honolulu Magazine in 2012. "John is a great songwriter and a great singer...he's one of the best." -- Jackson Browne
“A dynamic force within the style [of slack key]…dazzling” – The New York Times
“… soulful, folksy, bluesy and technically superb, yet seemingly effortless.”--Honolulu Magazine