Here Comes The Thunder
The forecast remains bright and sunny for music’s latest sensation, Hawai‘i’s Thunderstorm Artis.
The acoustic sound of Thunderstorm Artis is truly magical, and America is taking note.
The 24-year-old musician from Hale‘iwa, O‘ahu was voted through to the final five of NBC’s The Voice, with the finale taking place this week. Each artist performed again on Monday’s show (May 18), and then the winner was crowned the next night.
While the results weren’t known at press time, one thing is for sure: Artis has the power to take the music world by storm.
On the show, his coach Nick Jonas said to him, “I’ve been seeing your heart and your humility. It really shows through your music, and you’ve got a really natural storytelling voice.”
John Legend described Artis’ voice as “raspy and angelic at the same time. It kind of floats up there, but it’s also got a ruggedness to it.” Kelly Clarkson added it’s “the coolest tone.” And Blake Shelton stated, “You really live up to that name (Thunderstorm). You’re going to dominate musically or whatever it is you want to do. It’d be hard to contain that much talent.”
“It’s just been an amazing ride,” says Artis, who sang Blackbird in the blind audition and got all four of the show’s coaches to turn their chairs. “Getting to work with John Legend, James Taylor and Nick Jonas has been a surreal experience.
“And then, seeing Hawai‘i, my friends in Oregon and California, and people I have never met, who have kind of gotten behind me to support me. It’s been beautiful to see that. I used to have to do a lot for people to support me, but now it’s really cool to see people hearing me and they believe in me, and they want to see me go forward.”
Artis, who grew up in a large musical family with 10 siblings, was born in Kailua and moved to O‘ahu’s North Shore when he was 8. His father Ron Sr., who died in 2010, was a well-known artist and musician who worked with many industry icons, including Michael Jackson. The family was also known for forming a band that regularly performed at its Hale‘iwa art gallery.
“My father taught me everything I knew as a kid,” says Artis. “I grew up watching him and my mother play shows together. My dad came from a background of the music industry in Hollywood and they decided to move to Hawai‘i. It was definitely really crazy when he suddenly passed away, but he had instilled so much knowledge when it came to music and how to be good people and how to be teachable.
“So, I definitely have taken a lot of the lessons he has taught me. That is probably the reason why I play music every day, why I sing in this style and I try to stay a real genuine person. It’s been a beauty to carry on his legacy, along with my brothers and my sisters.”
Last year, Artis moved to Tennessee to pursue his music career, and quickly started working with a booking agency. Prior to The Voice, he was touring with Wander-lust Festival and on his own, setting up shows throughout the U.S. and Canada. But mid-tour, states started to shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, so he decided to hunker down with his brother, Ron, and his family in Beaverton, Oregon. He’s also a newlywed, having tied the knot with Faith McMaster — a singer and worship leader from Australia — on Good Friday last month. On last week’s Top 9 show, he dedicated his performance of Michael BublÃ©’s Home to his wife, recalling a period of time when they were apart for about a month. “It kind of just felt like I was playing shows, doing a lot of things with The Voice but really missing her, and none of these things really seemed to matter,” he says.
As for his decision to audition for The Voice, Artis gives credit to Jon Chu, director of the hit film Crazy Rich Asians. The two became friends after a random encounter (or was it fate?) when Chu saw the singer performing at Scoop of Paradise ice cream shop in Hale‘iwa a couple of years ago.
“They (Chu and his family) stayed there for about an hour listening to me play, so I stopped and we chatted for a bit,” recalls Artis. “Long story short, he asked me to come and perform for his wedding (in California) a couple of days later through email, and write the song for their first dance, which is their story of how they met. It turned out to be a really beautiful wedding.
“He’s hugely responsible for me being on the show. It was something I had talked about doing, but I never took that step to do it. He told some people they should look me up and they shot me an email (to audition), and that’s how the journey began.”
As to his name Thunderstorm, Artis explains, “My parents actually thought they were going to have twins, so my dad was going to name one Thunder and one Storm, but it turned out to be me. I was just a big baby.”
In addition to his abilities to sing and write music, Artis can also play about eight different instruments, and rap and whistle really well. He performs multiple genres of music, and lists Passenger as one of his favorite artists.
“I tend to lean more toward folk Americana and soul and R&B, but everything in between I’m really in love with,” he says.
When he’s not busy performing, he enjoys a variety of sports, including football (his favorite team is the San Francisco 49ers), volleyball, basketball, hiking and martial arts (he studied jiu-jitsu, muay thai, tai chi and boxing). He also likes to play video games, especially Tekken and Call of Duty.
He also is very involved with church ministry, taking part in worship and outreach programs, going on mission trips (he was in Brazil for a few weeks last October), teaching youth groups around the country and more. He even was studying parttime to become a pastor.
“God is everything to me,” he says. “My Christian background is my foundation of everything. Between my parents and God, that’s the thing that really set me up and push me forward in life and gave me purpose.”
Most of his family, including all five sisters, one brother and his mom, still live in Hawai‘i. His brother, Victor, continues to play music in LA, while Stevon is in Canada but also plays in a band with Ron.
“The ultimate dream is to really carry on my family’s legacy in music and to really take this to even a higher
level and hopefully make some really cool music and albums that everyone can enjoy,” says Artis, noting that the first thing he wants to do when returns to Hawai‘i is chill at the beach and eat a poke bowl.
“The Voice has given me a really nice platform to do this. I can’t wait to create music that touches people, and to be able to do that with my wife would be even more special.
“I’m extremely thankful for the love and support Hawai‘i has been giving me. I really hope to do Hawai‘i proud with my participation in this competition.”