John Cruz grew up in Hawaii and was gigging with his father's band by the time he was 15 years old. But the opportunities playing at tourist hotels seemed too limited for him and within a few years he'd relocated to the East Coast. Over a decade later Cruz decided to pull out of the major label race and return to Hawaii to build a folk career with less visibility but more artistic freedom. The gamble seems to have paid off; in 1997 Cruz was named Most Promising Artist at Hawaii's Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. Cruz is a sensitive singer who plays contemporary pop with occasional forays into traditional Hawaiian music.