" Five generations ago, in Madeira, Portugal, the Souza Family was playing a musical instrument called the Braguinha. When the Braguinha (the ancestor of the ‘ukulele) was brought to Hawai’i by Portuguese immigrants in 1879, the Souza Family followed suit.
Joe Souza grew up with the ‘ukulele played kanikapila-style, family and friends sitting around singing and playing at the beach or at home. In 1990 Joe was workign as a firefighter, was given the opportunity to apprentice under the late Peter “Uncle Pete” Bermudez, master luthier.
As Joe continued polishing his skills in playing and now crafting the ‘ukulele, he met and married the lovely Kristen. Shortly after purchasing their first house together, Joe set up his ‘ukulele shop, bought a bandsaw, and Kristen joined him to found Kanile’a ‘Ukulele in 1998. Born literally in a garage.
In 2006, Kanile’a had outgrown the garage and Joe and Kristen moved the shop to its current location where we continue to innovate and implement state-of-the-art machinery and practices.
We now arrive to 2020, 22 years later, the company has continued to grow expanding from 1,500 square feet to over 7,000. And with the help of now full-time Kaimana, Iokepa, and Kahiau, who are Joe and Kristen’s three sons, the Souza Family continues to inspire the soul. "