Willie K — real name William Awihilima Kahaiali’i — passed away on 18th May 2020. The Grammy Award-nominated Hawaiian music star was 59 years of age.
No, Willie K didn’t die of COVID-19 related illness. According to a post on his Facebook profile, he was fighting lung cancer for two years. What’s more, Willie K recieved the cancer diagnosis in February 2018. 14 months later, he had begun undergoing immunotherapy.
Here’s everything you need to know about Willie K’s wikis, net worth, and married life!
Willie K Left Behind Wife & Kids
Loved by so many, Willie K was an individual with high family values. At the time of his death, he was survived by wife Debbie Kahaiali’i and their four kids: Karshaun, Max, Lycettiana, and Antoinette.
On 19th May 2020, the Kahaiali’l family announced a celebration of life. However, at the time, they didn’t give out an exact date.
Throughout his cancer battle and until the day he died, Willie K recieved unbridled support from his wife and their children. Surely, his death took a toll on their emotions.
Up until his death, Willie K had been in positive spirits — thanks to a blissful married life. Also, he was looking forward to taking the stage.
Willie K’s Launched GoFundMe Campaign
Even undergoing cancer treatment, Willie K continued to spread joy with his music. In his heydey, he shared stages with iconic music figures: Santana, Prince, and Willie Nelson. Willie K also performed alongside Steven Tyler, Alice Cooper, and Mick Fleetwood.
In 1991, Willie K released his debut album titled “Kahaiali‘i”. Over the years, he recorded — and released — multiple ground-breaking projects.
Willie K’s most influential songs included “Katchi Katchi Music Makawao” and his version of “O Holy Night.”
Additionally, Willie K also owned “Mau Tribe Productions.”
Despite the musical success, Willie K struggled financially. When he recieved the Stage 4 cancer diagnosis in April 2019, his financial woes worsened. As a result, his friends & family set up a GoFundMe profile and aimed to raise $1 million. By May 2020, the campaign had collected around $100 thousand.
Back in 2018, Willie K revealed he was having a tough time being the person in need. In his own words,
“It’s hard to be the one in need, you know when you’re the one that’s always taking care of everybody else. I don’t know how to deal with that. That’s the one thing that’s bugging the hell out of me.”
At the time of his untimely demise, Willie K owned around $500 thousand net worth.
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He Owned Numerous Accolades
In his lifetime, Willie K bagged several awards. In 2019, he recieved the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. Also, Willie K had won many Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards — dubbed Hawaii’s equivalent of the Grammys.
Those who were in awe with his music lovingly addressed Willie K as “Uncle Willie.” One such fan was Barrack Obama. According to Willie K’s official website, the former POTUS was an “avowed fan.”
Worshipped by the people of Maui, Willie K was the city and state’s designated goodwill ambassador. He even hosted the annual Willie K’s BBQ Bluesfest at the city’s Arts and Culture Center.
Willie K Had 12 Siblings In The Family
A man of the people, Willie K — five feet nine inches height — came from a large family. In total, he had eight brothers and four sisters. Willie K was born to Manu Kahaiali’i and his wife as the couple’s second child.
Willie K inherited the passion for music from his parents. While her mother sang, her father built a legacy as a blues guitarist. Of the two, Wille K considered his dad a greater influence. According to him, Papa K could play it all — from Jazz to Blues to Hawaiian.
At age 8, Willie K made his stage debut. After the performance, he never looked back. By his admission, Willie K never knew life and business outside of music.