Building from a renowned lineage of musicians with unique guitar tunings, including his father Gabby Pahinui, slack-key master Cyril Pahinui has developed a distinctive style that is instantly recognizable and imparts an intimate picture of his island home. His soulful baritone voice brings a deeply personal emotion to everything he sings.
Pahinui spends much of his time in his community teaching next generations of this musical lineage. “I felt that this music should be taught in the same way it was taught for generations,” said Pahinui. “What is known as the kanikapila style of learning, in Native Hawaiian, ‘come let’s play music.’ Kanikapila refers to the old style of learning where musicians watch and listen and play along at their own skill level.”
Pahinui has recorded on more than 35 Hawaiian musical releases. He has twice played at Carnegie Hall, contributed to three Grammy Award-winning albums and received several Hoku Hanohano Awards. In 2013, he was awarded an NACF Artist Fellowship in Music that allowed him to develop a series of instructional videos teaching the 12-15 ki ho‘alu (slack-key) tunings his father developed and the C tunings (C-G-E-G-C-E) Cyril Pahinui is known for playing.
The NACF Fellowship supported Pahinui as he collaborated with Oiwi TV to produce the PBS pilot for Let’s Play Music, featuring 11 Native Hawaiian musicians gathering for a kanikapila and talk story type of interview session. PBS broadcast the historic program to 20,000,000 homes in America and Hawaii.
During his fellowship year, Pahinui also produced a student and master CD, a series of He Hauka’I E Pana Na I Ke Ea music videos, creating an instructional video archive and creating a new website. In 2014, Pahinui was honored with Nā Hōkū Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award.