Even though fame and the spotlight was never the fuel behind pursuing a career in music, it has come to Kiwini (pronounced Kee-vee-nee) Vaitai simply because his fans can’t get enough of him. Born in Dallas, TX and a local of Waianae, HI, Kiwini (who is half Tongan and half Hawaiian) has really taken the best of both his Tongan and Hawaiian cultures to create music that is enjoyed and loved by many. His style of music is an obvious product of his musical upbringing but his work ethic and passion for music is the very reason he has come to work with some of the biggest Urban Island artists today. Collaborating with the best is a sure way to number himself among the best and Kiwini is right on track and making that a living reality every day.
Kiwini’s given Hawaiian name is Kiwini Kamuela Kanaka Lokomaikai, which means “Kiwini, the bountiful man.” With a name like that, it’s no wonder Kiwini was blessed with a naturally abundant talent for music. Kiwini attributes his musicality to his mother’s side and he has always looked up to his uncle Sam, otherwise known as Uncle Sam Solatorio, a renowned musician in Hawaiian music. Growing up, Kiwini says his mom always played Old School music and the second Kiwini heard Stevie Wonder, it just clicked – the style, the story, the music – and he’s been a fan ever since. Kiwini sang in the choir at church and he didn’t pursue music outside of church until 2007/2008. While Old School music was a great part of his childhood, Reggae music became another influence in his adolescence with Fiji being a huge inspiration.
Bringing Old School and Reggae music together seems almost a norm among Urban Island artists today but Kiwini does so in a way that has so much soul. Kiwini’s soulful delivery of his music is smooth and seamless, which makes live performances all the more enjoyable. To have something that started out as a hobby turn into a career sounds like something you hear on TV but that’s exactly what happened to Kiwini. He did what he loved for the fun of it and he gained a following that continues to grow. With hits like “Can’t Stop”, “Lupeolo”, and “Pina Colada”, Kiwini is stirring up the Urban Island music scene and keeping a steady course with no signs of going anywhere.
Having done “Lupeolo”, a track in his native Tongan language, Kiwini is looking forward to doing a track in his native Hawaiian language. Culture is important to him but Kiwini states, “God first, family second, and everything else follows.” Kiwini is obviously a man of priorities and knows that music and his success mean nothing without his faith and his family. Like any other music artist, Kiwini simply wants to be heard and put out music. Music is that one thing he can run to and all his worries go away and his fans are grateful that his soulful music is something they can turn to when they want to escape their worries.
According to Kiwini, music artists trying to make it in the industry just need to keep pushing, keep at it, and don’t let anybody tell them they can’t do it. He also shares that aspiring artists need to be on their toes to avoid being swindled or cheated, have the right mindset, not be discouraged, be open-minded, and have a good time. Having sung backup for Laga Savea, Fiji, and J Boog, Kiwini has learned a lot in his journey to being an independent artist, which is exactly why he is as successful as he is. No one can deny it – Kiwini bleeds music; it’s in his blood, heart, and soul. There’s nothing like soulful, Urban Island music and no one does it better than Kiwini Vaitai.
-Article Written By: Juliet Uata