Everybody loves a love song … and many have an impossible dream. With hope, opportunities emerge.

Such has been the case for Kevin Iwamoto, known as Kevin I., when he’s talking about love songs and the music biz. He was a popular Hawaii recording artist with a penchant for love songs, back in the 1970s and 1980s. This year and last, however, Kevin I. became a digital-era musical force with certified hit songs, without ever singing a note.

Kevin Iwamto, aka Kevin I.

Kevin “retired” from music, after several years of performances in Waikiki nightclub and showrooms, but in the past two years, Kevin I. has emerged as a successful digital music star, followed by a remarkable global audience who downloaded and purchased the very music that put him on the map years ago. Undisputably, Kevin I.’s reach goes well beyond the reefs of Hawaii.

 “I have always dreamed about having my music played worldwide and outside of Hawaii but sadly never realized that dream when I was performing,” said Kevin. “Nowadays, with the music industry going digital globally, it’s really cool and validating to see the reaction from people all over the world who discover it and share my music with their friends and loved ones. It’s heartwarming to receive emails and posts about how my music has touched their lives and what it means to them.”

Kevin’s love songs, remastered for a new generation of fans.

Interestingly, Kevin has not sung live since his earlier era, because he’s logged 35 years with his “real” occupation in the business travel and events industries. He’s considered to be one of the original founders of Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) and is an in-demand author and speaker globally. While he’s formally retired, he still takes on guest speaking or panelist roles to serve his business colleagues. He has written two books available on Amazon and received numerous major awards and recognitions from business travel and event associations, as well as industry magazines. In 2001, he was elected President of the National Business Travel Association (now the Global Business Travel Association), and in 2009, he was awarded the rare designation of “Industry Icon” by GBTA. Throughout his extensive business career, Kevin has been a pioneering Asian American executive and a role model for minorities in the corporate travel and events industries.

But the surge of interest in and widening support of his limited catalogue of love songs, has been most satisfying. “I’m very grateful that I could witness this while I’m still around to experience a dream and career goal come true after 35 years,” he said.

Kevin, in his role as a speaker.

To validate and upgrade his earlier recordings, Kevin released “Love Songs Collection, 1980-1985,” comprising his remastered romantic signatures, on his Island Boy Music label, to meet the demands of a 21st century audience and fan base. The collection was released July 15, 2022, so its two-year anniversary is around the corner.

These romantic songs that were the hallmark of Kevin I.’s previous performing career in the 70s and 80s are flying higher than ever, connecting with a generation of global fans who didn’t know him, till they heard him deliver his long-dormant sound.

Indeed, he is proud of this benchmark. As he puts it: “These powerful and emotional ballads require solid singing technique, style, and emotional connection to the music and lyrics,” which was his trademark whenever he sang. With digitalization, his voice projects more vigor and vitality than ever.

Of particular interest: The new collection includes a never-before-released track, “One in Love,” written by local songwriter Manny Cabral. This live version was skillfully remastered from various taped recordings, including dress rehearsals, giving listeners a warm live rendition of a powerful love ballad.

“One in Love” earned a grand prize at the 3rd Hawaii Music Festival competition, which sent Kevin I. to represent Hawaii and the USA at the1983 International Tokyo Music Festival in Japan, where he competed with major international artists, winning two awards.

In addition to winning one of two Grand Prizes at the aforementioned Hawaii Music Festival, the song also won Best Composer laurels for Cabral and Best Arrangement honors for the late Willie Barton.

As the two-year anniversary approaches, “Love Songs Collection’ is on pace to exceed the first digital release in 2021 of “The Best of Kevin I. 1980-1985,” which featured 10 songs including his prime local hit and signature song, “Fairy Tale.”

The popularity of the remastered tracks is certification that love songs are universal and never out of vogue and emotionally connect with audiences everywhere. Kevin now is heard and played in more than 66 countries worldwide, on every continent, reaching multiple generations of listeners, besting his ’80s career. Despite the age of the music, it still appears on hundreds of international curated playlists, including those on Pandora and Spotify.

The resurrection of his digital tracks created two new hits outside of “Fairy Tale:” “If I Love Again” (written by Dennis Tanaka, who penned “Fairy Tale”) and ”Next Time I’ll Be Better” (composed by Kevin). The latter is his top streamed/downloaded track in 2023 and also his No. 1 Shazam’d track worldwide.

The streaming and downloads of both digital album releases have surpassed 250,000 and continue to add more listeners in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Middle East, Australia, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The impact certainly has made local-boy Kevin, a Roosevelt High School graduate, an unexpected global star.

Additionally, there’s been keen interest from collectors in his vintage vinyl LPs, notably in Japan and Europe, but unopened vinyl LPs of both the Kevin I. reissue LP and his “New Dimensions” LP are in very short supply, because hundreds of discs, unopened in their shrink-wrapped cellophane, were dumped from storage and his late mom’s home in Manoa, before the sale of the home. Who knew that vinyl would enjoy a revival?

 “I’m just so grateful and blessed to be alive to experience the rebirth of my 80’s  music worldwide,” said Kevin, who views his belated fame as “a tremendous validation and late-life gratification that my singing career was not in vain or a fluke.”

 So, his love songs are flourishing, and his dreams soaring…

And that’s Show Biz…

 And that’s Show Biz…


  1. That was a superb trip down memory lane. It’s fantastic to learn Kevin’s voice is enjoying a resurgence. Imagine a concert featuring 70s and 80s Hawaii stars like Kevin, Carole Kai, Melveen, Nohelani Cypriano, the Krush w/ Hal Bradbury, Yvonne Elliman, Henry Kapono, with tributes to Mackey Feary, the SOS, and others who are no longer with us. Tom Moffat could spearhead a Hawai’i Show of Stars…Show of Stars 808! Aw heck! At least we can dream.
    Thank you for the memories Wayne!

  2. Kevin has business acumen, so he started to replenish his profile with remastered music, that caught on to a global crowd because he also has a repertoire of melodic love songs. Alas, with the exception of Henry Kapono, most artists of the past have not preserved their legacies with this kind of flashbacks to eras past to give catalogues a new life. Kevin is a rarity, investing in his vintage music to give it appeal to a new generation of new fans.

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