Keale’s roots run deep whether he’s playing music, teaching children or preserving sacred places. He lives and breathes the breath of his ancestors & people. His gentle voice and soul have touched people of all generations through song & story.
Keale’s journey has crossed many cultures being of Niihau, Arkansas, Choctaw & Cherokee descent. The “wonder-years” were near his Arkansas grandma & grandpa in the San Joaquin Valley, CA. Living just a short drive from Yosemite and in a strongly Mexican community kept him close to native ways & thinking. His hometown of Planada (which means “the Plain-of-nothing”) accompanied by the fragrance of tomatoes, figs & peaches as well as the cumbia, ranchera music of the Mexican people provided a rich soil and foundation to life. Born in the islands but raised in Indian Country with the Pomo, Miwok, and Yokut tribes would never leave his soul & music.
Keale is a natural teacher & storyteller following in the footsteps of the great leaders of Niihau–the forbidden island. He is keenly attuned to the elements around him and those forces are the current and flow of his music. In 2001, Keale returned home to be taught & trained by his islandwide Ohana. Through the Kupuna (Elders) especially, he learns everyday what it means to be a Hawaiian Man & follow in the footsteps of the Ancestors.
In an interview with the Knoxville Daily Times, Keale described how it took a supernatural visit from an ancestor “coming and speaking to me to realize that when someone gives you a compliment on your voice or playing, they’re indirectly complimenting the Creator who gave you those gifts and talents.” Keale added, “I think that the No. 1 thing for music to do is to share healing and unconditional love and justice. I talk a lot and do a lot of storytelling — I might do a 9-minute introduction to a 2-minute song — but I’m real easy with people, so it doesn’t feel awkward. I’m not an entertainer; I’m an educator, and that’s how I feel — that music is more educational than entertaining, because there’s always something to be said.”
Keale’s music brings forward the legacy of the Keale family. He is nephew to the Hawaiian music legend, Moe Keale (Ukulele virtuoso), and first-cousin to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (IZ).