Jeff Peterson is a Native Hawaiian slack key guitarist, composer, and educator. Born and raised amidst Maui’s paniolo (cowboy) culture, he has made it his focus to study and share the rich history of musical influence in Hawai’i across generations.
Recognized as one of Hawaii’s most versatile musicians, Peterson learned in the tradition of nana ka maka; ho`olohe ka pepeiao; pa`a ka waha or, “observe with the eyes, listen with the ears, shut the mouth.” This form of passing on knowledge aurally has been practiced for countless generations in Hawai’i, and it is his passion to document the ki ho`alu tradition for future generations to learn from. Peterson is a dynamic teacher and collaborator, working not only with fellow musicians, but schools and libraries year-round to inspire Hawaiian youth, and similarly to train guitarists around the globe in the art of slack key guitar.
Peterson shines as a solo artist, having received eight Na Hoku awards and winning two Grammy awards.
My Hawaiian heritage has always served as my main inspiration to perform, compose, and pass knowledge on to my students. One of my main goals is to educate aspiring musicians to study ki ho`alu so that the tradition can continue and evolve in ways that honor the kupuna or elders.
~ Jeff Peterson
Jeff Peterson performs “Hawaiian Skies,” a song he wrote that was featured in the George Clooney movie “The Descendants,” while appearing on HiSessions.com Acoustic Live, 2017.