“Owana Salazar is an acknowledged Hawaiian favorite….Here, she embarks on a delightful, lilting journey, marrying her love for Hawaiian music with her appreciation for jazz.” (Wayne Harada, Honolulu Advertiser, review of CD Hula Jazz)
“Owana, crowned in fragrant plumeria, then took the stage with her steel guitar artistry, added some smiling talk story about the instrument's origins and her own background, then switched to slack key, her voice as rich as her smile….The evening's program described slack key as being played from the heart and soul through the fingers and the entertainers reached out to the audience, warming their hearts as well.” (Liz Janes-Brown, The Maui News)
As a respected vocalist, kīhō‘alu (slack key) artist and steel guitarist, Owana Salazar possesses the ability to reach out in song to intimately embrace her audience. Her profound interpretations of Hawaiian classics, traditional and contemporary music, and jazz standards truly reflects her ancestry and upbringing in Hawaiian culture. Owana’s multiple talents allow her to create fusion between styles of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian and jazz performance without compromising the character and integrity of any style. Her graciousness and generosity as a performer and radiant voice makes each person in the audience feel the warmth of her “aloha.”
Growing up immersed in music and then hula, new musical vistas opened when she became a music major in college--voice, piano, string methods, guitar, Javanese dance and gamelan, and, notably, slack-key guitar. Her influences in slack key and open tunings included such greats as Gabby Pahinui, Sonny Chillingworth, Liko Martin, Joni Mitchell, Leo Kottke, Ozzie Kotani, Keola Beamer, and Led Kaapana.
Throughout the 1980s, Owana sang Hawaiian classics, performing with the Royal Hawaiian Band, as well as with such celebrated performers as Charles K.L. Davis, Ed Kenney, Tommy Sands, Ohta San, Genoa Keawe, and Betty Loo Taylor. She toured throughout Hawai’i and Japan. In 1990 legendary musician Jerry Byrd, known as “the master of touch and tone”, accepted Owana as his student in Hawaiian steel guitar--she became the only female student ever graduated by him.
Her first recording in 1986, “Owana and Ka`ipo, In Kona” was final ballot nominee in the category of Most Promising Artist in the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, (Hawai'i's "Grammys"). The following year, her second recording, “Owana”, was final ballot nominee for Contemporary Hawaiian Album of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year.
In 2000 and again in 2002, Owana was the first woman to tour with the Hawaiian Slack Key Festival with such artists as George Kahumoku, Jr., Keoki Kahumoku, Ledward Kaapana, and Daniel Ho. She also appeared on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion and was the first Hawaiian musician invited to perform at the renowned New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. She was a featured performer on two Grammy-winning CDs—Masters of Hawaiian Music vol. 2 and Treasures of Hawaiian Music, and has released three solo CDs to date, two of which won Nā Hōkū Hanohano (Hawaiian Grammy) awards: Hula Jazz, Best Jazz Album in 2005, and Wahine Slack ‘n Steel, Best Contemporary Hawaiian Album in 2003. Whether Hawaiian music or jazz, Owana gives the audience a genuine and cherished experience.
Artist's website: www.owanasalazar.com
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