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Sam Ahia

One of the royalty of our Hawaiian musical ‘ohana.

June 12, 2014
Louise Lambert - Contributing Writer ( , Maui Weekly

Shortly after moving to Maui in 1997, I attended a fundraiser in Wailea for the Kihei Youth Center where I met several incredible Hawaiian musical performers, including the Ho'opi'i Brothers and the unique Hawaiian jazz guitarist and singer Sam Ahia.

Sam played his heartfelt music as his wife, Rini, danced. Her subtle hula called to my soul and they moved me with their welcoming spirit of aloha.

At the Front Street Jazz & Blues Walk in Lahaina recently, Sam delightfully accompanied jazz vocalist Ellen Bellrose at Longhi's. At Al Jarreau's afterparty at Kono's in Kihei last week, he played Brazilian jazz with Sal and Estaire Godinez, with Eddie Alvarez on bass, Indio on drums, Larry Fitzpatrick on bongos, and Sal's daughter, Marissa, adding beautiful family harmony.

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Musician and Maui Weekly columnist Louise Lambert first met Hawaiian jazz guitarist and singer Sam Ahia at a fundraiser on Maui in 1997.

A master guitarist, Sam is one of the royalty of our Hawaiian musical 'ohana. He used to play jazz at Keoni's five nights a week after hours on O'ahu. Now he loves playing jazz with other great Maui musicians, including Brian Cuomo and Marv Blue at Kimo's First Fridays. He plays solo at Kimo's on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, his lush guitar sound and seductive vocals accompanied by the rhythm of the waves. Occasionally, he plays at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua and Fleetwood's on Front Street.

Sam started his musical career playing 'ukulele at age 6, and gained quite a repertoire by ear while working as a shoeshine boy in Honolulu, near the Hawai'i Theater. At age 10, he played on the Jimmy Walker radio show. Picking up guitar at 20, Sam worked extensively on O'ahu, had a trio with his brother and sister, and played with Don Ho and an infinite number of musical artists. He had long stints in California, Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe, where he sang, played and arranged for the Waikikians vocal group. Sam's big claim to fame is having played Carnegie Hall, with 'ukulele artist Roy Sakumo.

The Ahia musical lineage carries on with Sam's jazz-singing daughter, Lisa; talented young granddaughter, Lindsay; and his son, Howard, an original songwriter, singer and guitarist, who performs regularly at Tommy Bahamas on Maui.

Maui's Swing Queen, jazz vocalist and pianist Louise Lambert, and her band perform at Three's Bar & Grill on Friday nights and at Kono's in Kihei on Wednesdays. She teaches voice, piano and "How to Sing and Play in a Band Workshops" for all ages. She also provides world-class musical entertainment for special events. Contact her at, or (808) 205-3971.



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