Ukulele musician named among nation's top artists

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jun 26, 2011

Hawaii slack key guitar and ukulele musician Ledward Kaapana was named as a 2011 National Heritage Fellowship recipient, the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts.

Kaapana, 62, was one of nine recipients announced Friday by the National Endowment for the Arts. The award, which comes with a $25,000 check, recognizes individuals for their artistic excellence and efforts to preserve their culture.

The recipients have been invited to an awards presentation and concert at the Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Md., in September.

Kaapana, who grew up in Kalapana on the Big Island but now lives in Kaneohe, was recognized for entertaining audiences for more than 40 years.

He learned music from his mother, Mama Tina Kaapana and an uncle, Fred Punahoa.