Born in 1954, Jon Lorance Kai spent his childhood years growing up on the island of Kaua‘i before moving to Halawa Housing on Oahu in the years before the Aloha Stadium was built. Eventually, he moved to Wahiawa Heights, attended Wahiawa Intermediate and graduated from Leilehua High School in 1972.
Over the years, he developed an ardent interest, as well as achieved success, in various areas of music. While attending high school, band director, James Ueyeda conducted an analysis on Johnny that led to qualifying the young boy as a “child prodigy.” Mr. Ueyeda set up special programs to enhance the process of developing his skills.
The process helped Johnny to achieve meaningful accomplishments as a music major that aided him in his later years in organizing young people and their talents. He became: President of the Band, First Chair for the trumpet section, Quarter Master for the band, member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society and participant in the Leilehua High School Performing Choir. During this time, Johnny wrote many of the cheers for the school cheerleaders and became a big supporter of the sports programs.
All of this led to a prestigious award from Dr. Richard Lum, Music Department Chair at the University of Hawaii when he presented Johnny Kai with a full four year scholarship for his work with music students, both at the Intermediate and High School level.
Johnny has taken his genius to produce, promote and develop many major programs in Hawaii and abroad which include: “Hawaii Music Awards”, “Hawaiian Grammy Category-consultant”, “Magic of Polynesia Show”, “World Invitational Hula”, Miss Hawaii USA”, “Hawaii Music Awards-Japan”, and the “2016 Hula Girl Festival”, along with many other programs and events.
His pet project is “Brown Bags to Stardom”, a children’s talent contest inviting elementary, middle, and high schools in Hawaii to send representatives to the Statewide Finals. The music category features musicians and vocalists and the non-music category includes dancers, magicians, comedians, beat boxers and others.
An article in MidWeek about Johnny Kai touts “Brown Bags to Stardom”:
The key to rebuilding Hawaii’s entertainment industry and the ability to earn a musical livelihood, Johnny Kai will argue, is in its youth. Current entertainers, after all, will not be here forever. Hawaii, he’ll also say, is brimming with talent. But it’s almost impossible for young hopefuls to break through.“Us old people who have the experience and the knowledge, we have the jobs,” explains Kai. “That’s why the kids can’t come in. They can’t replace our years of experience, and yet we’re getting old.” It doesn’t help, either, that many schools lack resources to sustain music-education programs—not to mention the amount of money it takes to build a career in the entertainment Industry. Plus, there is one other very important factor to consider: How does a person even get discovered? This is where Johnny Kai and Brown Bags to Stardom step in, seeking young, undiscovered artists — at no cost to them.
A relentless leader in the entertainment industry, Johnny has the keen insight, skills,and passion for making things happen, and looks forward to bringing many more wonderful programs and events to the communities that we serve. He serves as a key member in the Advisory Board of Na Mea Ho‘okani.