Skip to main content

Jack Johnson's Hawaii festivals meld music, eco-awareness

By Denise Quan, CNN
May 16, 2012 -- Updated 2021 GMT (0421 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jack Johnson has released a live album, "Jack Johnson and Friends -- Best of Kokua Festival"
  • It includes performances with Eddie Vedder, Dave Matthews, Willie Nelson, Ziggy and Damian Marley
  • Proceeds to go the Kokua Hawaii Foundation to fund eco-friendly programs for children

(CNN) -- The sparkling blue waters of Hawaii run through Jack Johnson's veins like lifeblood.

As his fans know, the superstar singer-songwriter was born and raised in America's 50th state. The island's rich volcanic soil grounds him, and its rolling white surf beckons to him each and every morning -- just as it did to his dad and brothers while they were growing up on Oahu's pristine North Shore.

"Lately, I've been motivated to take my kids surfing, and just do their homework with them and things like that," Johnson told CNN. "I've been having fun with that. Those are the things that bring me songs."

Protecting the Aloha State's natural resources has been a mission for Johnson and his wife, Kim, for the past nine years. In 2003, they founded the nonprofit Kokua Hawaii Foundation to raise eco-awareness in the area's public schools.

"We started with the "Three R's" recycling program -- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle -- and it grew from there," he said. "Now we have several programs. We do a lot of plastic-free initiatives, trying to get kids to bring their own bags and water bottles. Things like that."

Over the past eight years, the multiplatinum artist has headlined a half-dozen music festivals in Hawaii to fund the organization. He's been joined onstage by an impressive list of famous friends, from Eddie Vedder, Dave Matthews and Ben Harper to Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne and Ziggy and Damian Marley. It's a casual, acoustic affair with an electric trolley shuttle, bike valets and biodegradable eating utensils. Popular local musicians such as Paula Fuga, John Cruz and ukelele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro give the bill a distinctly Hawaiian flavor.

Now some of those memorable performances have been compiled into a 13-track live album called "Jack Johnson and Friends -- Best of Kokua Festival." All of the proceeds to go the Kokua Hawaii Foundation.

"It's nice to know that we are all coming together to raise money for the kids in Hawaii, for the schools, for these environmental programs," says Johnson. "But at the same time, it's such a special night for me to be able to be onstage with these people. So it's a win-win for me."

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT