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Singer Puts Hawaiian Spin On National Anthem & It’s Never Sounded Better.

His name is William Awihilima Kahaiali’i, but in Hawaii, he’s known simply as Willie K.

Willie is a fixture in the Hawaiian music scene. He’s been performing since he was 10 years old, playing alongside legends like Prince, Santana, ZZ Top, and Journey. His musical style includes elements of blues, rock and roll, and even opera, but throughout it all his voice is distinctly and undeniably Hawaiian.


Willie has always played all over the place on the islands, but he took a break in February 2018 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now, less than a year later, Willie is refusing to let cancer get him down, and he’s back to doing what he does best while undergoing treatments — strumming his ukulele and making a big splash on the internet in the process!

When the University of Hawaii was looking for someone to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” at their football game against the University of Nevada, they knew they couldn’t go wrong by selecting Willie for the honor. Yet when Willie appeared on the field at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, his performance struck a chord with audiences well beyond the walls of the stadium that day.


Wearing a flower lei and a classic Hawaiian shirt, Willie played the familiar song in a brand new way. This wasn’t a matter of simply using a different instrument than we’re used to hearing; Willie’s version of the song is slow, sweet, and beautifully representative of the Hawaiian sound he’s famous for cultivating.

You could hear a pin drop as audience members stood at attention in the stands. The song has honestly never sounded like this, and it’s a perfect example of how Hawaii manages to be a completely American state while still honoring the history of its people and traditions.


Willie said he was truly honored to deliver his version of the National Anthem in front of the fans that day, and he’s thrilled with the reception he received from internet viewers from all over.

“For a local boy who idolized all these people when he’s growing up, you never see yourself in that place, ever,”he stated.

We love that Willie has overcome so much and is still true to his craft! Watch his breathtaking version of the “Star Spangled Banner” below, and be sure to share this incredible performance with your friends.

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