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PODCAST: Hawaii singer-songwriter John Cruz reflects on 25 years of ‘Acoustic Soul’

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Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 1:06 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 22, 2022 at 3:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Twenty-five years ago, Hawaiian singer-songwriter John Cruz released “Acoustic Soul,” one of the most celebrated and best-selling Hawaii albums of all time.

It features the classic hit “Island Style.”

Cruz wrote the song while he was in New York, reflecting on memories of home, where music was a constant.

“The thought there is mom’s cooking dinner, my sister sitting on the couch, harmonizing to whatever my mom happens to be singing, not consciously, but you know, mom’s just humming some song,” he said. “Music was always just, it wasn’t even special, you know, it was just something that happened all the time at my house.”

The album “Acoustic Soul” came out back in the mid-1990s, when the music in Hawaii was changing. A mixture of reggae and contemporary Hawaiian music was gaining popularity fast, but Cruz wanted to play something else.

He describes his sound as “country comfort.”

“I think that just feels and sounds to me like a good period of music, because … we listened to music constantly at my home at, at my house, you know, always have records on a turntable and whatnot,” Cruz said.

It wasn’t until six months to a year later that he would finish the rest of the song.

Cruz would win two Na Hoku Hanohano awards for that album and a Grammy Award in 2005.

He is nominated this year for two awards for his new album.

Cruz now lives on Maui and is enjoying a laidback life of fishing and repairing instruments. He’s also spending a lot of time with family — he’s a grandfather now.

When it comes to music, he has no regrets.

“I chose the life I’ve chosen and it’s been a wonderful life, and basically I’m lucky because music allowed me, um, a chance to be free,” he said. “You know, the freedom to make my own choices, freedom to make decisions, what I want to do, how I want to do it.”

Cruz will be performing four shows at Blue Note Hawaii on June 25 and 26 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Acoustic Soul.”

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