Published on August 27, 2013 by Amy
Carleton Lewis Kealiʻinaniaimokuokalani Reichel (born 1961) popularly known as Kealiʻi Reichel, is a popular and bestselling singer, songwriter, choreographer, dancer, chanter, scholar, teacher, and personality from Hawaiʻi. He has spent his life educating the world about Hawaiian culture through music and dance.
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Kealiʻi (pronounced Kay-ah-LEE-ee) Reichel was born and raised on the island of Maui. Reichel grew up in the town of Lahaina where he attended Lahainaluna High School, however he spent weekends and summers with his maternal grandmother in the plantation town of Pāʻia. At the age of 24, Reichel was convicted of theft, and was sentenced to community service, which involved a study of Hawaiian culture. This marked a turning point in his life, as he decided to devote the rest of his life to the study and promotion of Hawaiian culture.
Reichel was one of the founding directors for Punana Leo O Maui, a Hawaiian language immersion pre-school. He has taught Hawaiian culture and language at the University of Hawaiʻi’s, Maui Community College, and he was the Cultural Resource Specialist and curator at the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku.
Reichel studied Hawaiian dance and vocals under Kumu hula (dance instructor/choreographer/master) Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, daughter of the kumu hula and Hawaiian scholar “Aunty” Edith Kanakaʻole. He later founded his own hālau hula (Hawaiian dance troop) Halau hula o ka Makani Wili Makaha o Kauaʻula now called Halau Keʻalaokamaile.
In 1994, at the age of 33, he recorded and released a collection of Hawaiian traditional and contemporary music entitled Kawaipunahele on his own Punahele Productions record label, and began his career as a Hawaiian music superstar. Reichel’s subsequent albums, Lei Haliʻa (1995), ʻE O Mai (1997), and Melelana (1999), placed him securely at the top of the Hawaiian music entertainment industry. He is also featured in two anthology albums released by his record label, Pride of Punahele (1998) and Pride of Punahele 2 (2003).
In 2004, his album of the previous year, Keʻalaokamaile (2003), won four of the top awards at the 27th Annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (Hawaii’s regional equivalent of the Grammy Awards) including Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, Hawaiian Album of the Year and Song of the Year.
Reichel’s style most often includes vocals over a guitar, bass, and ukulele ensemble but may also include a Western (European-American) string quartet (violin, viola and cello) or traditional pre-1778 Hawaiian instruments. His vocals include Hawaiian language chanting and singing in both Hawaiian and English. Stage performances include dance in both traditional and modern hula forms. He also plays guitar.
Kealiʻi performed in the Maui Academy of Performing Arts production of Jesus Christ Superstar as Jesus.
Reichel currently has contracts with JVC Victor Entertainment and Atlantic/Time-Warner. Kealiʻi Reichel’s consistent placement in Billboard Magazine’s World Music Charts has garnered him international attention. He has opened concerts for Bonnie Raitt, LeAnn Rimes, Céline Dion, and Sting. In addition to his regular concerts in Hawaiʻi, he has toured the United States mainland playing in such places as New York at Carnegie Hall, San Diego, San Francisco, Anaheim, Hollywood Bowl, Phoenix, and toured internationally with concerts in Tahiti, Osaka and Tokyo, Japan, where he has performed to a sold out audience.
Reichel is known not only for his artistry as a performer, song writer and recording artist, but also for his work as a teacher of Hawaiian culture to the rest of the world.