To say that Ron Artis II plays music from his heart and soul would be a bit of understatement. With his family upbringing and incredible early success, you may even say it has been pre-ordained. So how does one of the great musical talents of his generation come seemingly out of nowhere? Well, that part of the mystery is easy to solve. He’s been paradise’s best kept secret for years and now he’s finally making big waves on the mainland and beyond.
Ron moved to Oahu, Hawaii with his family when he was only four years old. And what a prodigious family it is! He is one of eleven total children, all of whom grew up immersed in a creative and religious household led by his musically gifted parents. Ron explains “My mother is a beautiful singer and my biggest influence on my approach to singing. My father was always the performer, the writer and arranger.”
While developing his multi-instrumental prowess playing in the Artis Family Band, Ron quickly took to piano and guitar as his main modes of expression. His mastery of both—in addition to numerous other instruments—quickly made evident that he was special. As he got older and played more around Oahu, others quickly recognized his gifts as well. Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), Jack Johnson, Jake Shimabukuro and many others recognized the incredible talent that was taking root on their isolated island paradise. Ron has gone on to play with all of them and more across Hawaii’s most prestigious venues.
Those opportunities led to more exposure to artists from the mainland who, while they were touring the islands, all immediately recognized the unique talent they were witnessing. Booker T Jones, Eric Krasno (Soulive, Lettuce) and G Love all invited (and in some cases demanded) Ron to collaborate and encouraged him to share his music with the broader world. This support aligned perfectly with Ron’s vision for his music: “To me, music is about giving. When I’m performing, I let go of everything. I look out into an audience and feel: ‘What do they need right now?’ We as artists have been given a gift and gifts are meant to be shared.”
Ron has a special treat for the much-loved audience of the Sisters Folk Fest this year. He’ll be playing with a new project, The Messengers, a soulful big-band that’s musically-engulfed in rhythm and powerful lyrics embodying the belief that “togetherness is the key to our future.”
Imagine closing your eyes and stepping into your soul, with nothing from the material world in your way; it’s just you and a deep musical experience! Think of the music of Bobby Womack, Fela Kuti, D’Angelo or Mumford & Sons, approaching major social issues with love and candor.
Be prepared to dance, cry, sing and laugh.