Kimo (Hawaiian for James) Cornwell, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He began his classical piano studies at the age of 8, and continued on for 6 1/2 years. He also loved playing drums and percussion in the orchestral and marching bands all through middle and high school. During this time, he started to discover and explore the music world of pop, rock, R&B, and jazz.
At the age of 22, Kimo was asked if he’d be interested in going on the road with the Mark-Almond Band. They had a national radio hit song at the time called “The City” and it was made up of 2 key members, Johnny Almond on sax and Jon Mark on acoustic guitar. They were both out of the legendary John Mayall’s Blues Band from England. Kimo reluctantly declined because of his commitment with a well-known Honolulu band that he was a key member of at the time. Needless to say, he was very flattered by the offer.
Cornwell decided to make a move to Los Angeles in 1981 to check out the music scene. In his first year he landed the keyboard chair with pop RnB singer Cheryl Lynn who had a national radio hit with “To Be Real” and was going to start her national tour. His other credits include performing and/or recording with such diverse artists as Ronnie Laws, Al Jarreau, Frankie Beverly and Maze, John Klemmer, Rick Springfield, Julio Iglesias, Howard Hewitt, Hubert Laws, Peter White, Charo, Billy Mitchell, and legendary jazz/blues singer Barbara Morrisson.
Kimo’s worked with many of Hawaii’s top recording artists…Pauline Wilson (Seawind), Don Ho, Michael Paulo, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Hawaiian Style Band, Makaha Sons of Niihau, and Kalapana. In 1996 he produced a cd, “I’m Going Home”, by Randy Lorenzo which received numerous Nahokuhanohano award nominations…Hawaii’s version of the Grammys.
Other credits include scoring and performing music for several TV movies, cooking shows, and documentaries. He’s toured all over the United States, Europe, and Asia performing from jazz clubs, to arenas, to stadiums. He has 3 gold albums and numerous “Proclamations” and “Keys to the City” from his work with Hiroshima, Al Jarreau, and Maze.
For the last 30 years Kimo has been one of the principal members of two- time Grammy nominated Los Angeles-based group, Hiroshima. As keyboardist, composer, arranger, and co-producer he’s recorded 15 albums with the band…7 years before that he worked as a keyboard sideman. The band is still very actively touring and performing all over the US and abroad. This year the band celebrates 40 years since their very first recording in 1979.
Recently, Kimo released his first ever CD titled “Hawaii State Of Mind”. It’s a musical homage to his Hawaii roots with a mix of mostly original material and some Hawaiian classics. The music covers many styles, with that common jazz thread through them all, and features some amazing musicians from both Hawaii and Los Angeles.