Pekelo Cosma was born and raised in Hana, Maui, where at the age of five, he was inspired by kiho’alu guitar style of Albert Kapunanui, a blind man called “Tutu Apa’a.” When he was 10 years old, The Hana Music Festival Pekelo saw the great Gabby Pahinui, and Eddie Kamae of the popular Sons of Hawaii. Their music left a deep impression on Pekelo who combined that style with the grass roots music of his Hana family. He was discovered by larger audiences with the release of his debut album, "Going to Hana Maui" in 1992. The "discovery" of a young Hawaiian man who played slack-key guitar and sang mostly Hawaiian-language songs at a time when some island radio stations were going 100% Jawaiian made him a welcome newcomer to Hawaii's music scene. Cosma was also passionate about giving back to the community, frequently volunteering to play music at fundraisers, and teaching music and slack-key guitar to children in Hana and around the islands. Pekelo plays all his music in kiho’alu or slack-key guitar virtuoso, a master falsetto singer, a composer, arranger, teacher of ukulele and guitar, and lecturer-story teller.
Pekelo won the Hoku Award in 2007 when "Ni'ihau," co-written with Ileialoha Beniamina, won in the adjudicated Haku Mele category for the best newly written Hawaiian language composition. He received the 2011 Ki Ho'alu Foundation Legacy Award for his lifetime career contributions to the preservation and perpetuation of Hawaiian slack key in May.
Cosma addressed contemporary issues in 2007 with two of the songs on "Hana by the Sea," his last album of new recordings. "Na Wiliwili Eha" described how an introduced species of gall wasps was devastating indigenous wiliwili trees. "Cry for a Nation" denounced the building of "castles on the beaches" while native-Hawaiians "are left homeless and ignored." What will happen to the Hawaiian people, he asked, "now that we're in foreign hands?"