Kealoha is the first Poet Laureate of Hawaiʻi. As an internationally acclaimed poet and storyteller, he has performed throughout the world -- from the White House to the ʻIolani Palace, from Brazil to Switzerland. He is the first poet in Hawaiʻi's history to perform at a governor's inauguration, was selected as a master artist for a National Endowment for the Arts program, was named an American Academy of Poets Laureate Fellow, and delivered the keynote address for MIT’s special commencement ceremony in 2022. Kealoha’s latest work, The Story of Everything, is a science-based theater production that has toured in various cities throughout the United States and premiered as a feature film at the 2022 Maui Film Festival and the 2022 Hawaiʻi International Film Festival. In the 7 years that he has represented Hawaiʻi at the National Poetry Slam, he has performed on the finals stage 4 times, was ranked in the top ten of the nations best poets in 2007, and was honored as a "National Poetry Slam Legend" in 2010. He is the founder of Hawaiʻi Slam (ranked 2nd in the nation), Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi (2-Time International Champions), and First Thursdays (the largest registered slam poetry competition in the world with an average attendance of 500+). Kealoha has served as Hawaiʻi's SlamMaster since 2003, and has been on the Artists in the Schools roster since 2005. He has featured at hundreds of live venues throughout the world including the Nuyorican poets cafe (New York City), the Bowery Poetry Club (New York City), the Green Mill (Chicago), the Schiffbau (Zürich, Switzerland), the Rokerij (Amsterdam, Netherlands), the Bienal do Ibirapuera (São Paulo, Brazil), and the 2007 NFL Pro Bowl halftime show. In the genre of storytelling, he has gained national recognition by showcasing at high profile events such as the National Storytelling Network Conference, the Bay Area Storytelling Festival, and the Honolulu Storytelling Festival.
Kealoha was featured on HBO’s Brave New Voices series, and he has also made appearances on NBC, PBS, the Food Network, National Public Radio, the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards, and the State of Hawaiʻi’s “Can’t Fool the Youth” anti-smoking campaign that he wrote, performed, and co-directed. He is the poetic vocalist for Henry Kapono’s “Wild Hawaiian Experience” (nominated for a Grammy), and has also been recorded on albums such as Hapa’s “Maui” (winner of 4 Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards and the Hawaiʻi Music Award for “Album of the Year”), Henry Kapono's "Henry," the Mana Maoli compilation (featuring Jack Johnson and John Cruz), and a full-length spoken word CD entitled Kealoha. In the literature world, Kealoha's poetry has been printed by various publishers including the New York Times, the National Academy of Engineering, Auckland University Press, and Bamboo Ridge. He has performed 4 times on the “World’s Greatest Poetry Slam” DVD series (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008), was featured in the film "Get a Job" starring Willie K and Eric Gilliom, and starred in the movie “Hawaiʻi Slam: Poetry in Paradise."
Kealoha has shared the stage with Jack Johnson, CeeLo Green, Maxi Priest, Jason Mraz, Ben Harper, Kenny Loggins, Willie Nelson, Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, Michael Franti, Bootsy Collins, Fishbone, Don Carlos, Konishiki, Ohio Players, Medusa, and almost every notable slam poetry superstar. He has also collaborated with artists such as Henry Kapono (Grammy nominee), Hapa (multiple Nā Hōkū winners), Makana (slack key virtuoso), Willie K (Grammy nominee), Mick Fleetwood (multi-platinum/multi-Grammy winner), Taimane Gardner (ʻukulele virtuoso), and Jason Scott Lee (actor). Finally, he has conducted workshops at over 300 distinct schools, libraries, prisons, and community centers throughout his career (including a master’s workshop at the Bamboo Ridge Writer’s Institute) alongside writing leaders such as Michael Arndt (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior), and Witi Ihimaera (The Whale Rider).
Beyond poetry, Kealoha co-directed a sold out 1,400-seat show of the Vagina Monologues at Hawaiʻi Theatre (featuring luminaries such as Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Nora Okja Keller, and Joy Harjo), and was commissioned to design and teach a full summer school course in Performing Arts at Punahou School. He also co-wrote and played the lead role in a hip-hop theatre production entitled Chase, which sold out on every night of its original and encore runs. To serve the community, he sat on the Board of Directors for the Hawaiʻi People's Fund, a grassroots non-profit involved in activist-advised grantmaking. Kealoha graduated with honors from MIT with a degree in Nuclear Engineering (and a minor in writing), served as a business consultant in San Francisco, and played around as a surf instructor prior to becoming a professional poet in 2002.