If you’ve ever been to the North Shore, you’ve encountered the Artis family in some capacity. Ron Artis, the family’s late patriarch, has a gorgeous collection of broken surfboards and murals he painted (over 900 in the course of his lifetime) around Haleiwa. They’re bright and happy. Just like his family. I first stumbled across the Artis family when I popped into their studio with my family in Haleiwa in 2008. The experience was unforgettable. Ron welcomed me, my mom, dad, and brother (all perfect strangers to them at the time) into their space as the entire family of 11 siblings ranging in age from toddler to adult (plus dad…all on different instruments) proceeded to rip through a set of songs with so much passion and talent that we were filled with joy and inspiration. It was amazing.
A few years later, I reconnected with Ron Artis II, who had been continuing his dad’s legacy with his band, Ron Artis II and The Truth. I told him about how I’d never forget stumbling into his family’s shop and the picture of joy and inspiration his family burned into my brain. Before I knew it, Ron and his family had played three events with The Inertia – ranging from a film premiere of Holy Meola at Turtle Bay, another premiere on Abbot Kinney in Venice, and a third impromptu rooftop jam at our old office on the corner of Venice and Lincoln. Each show, Ron and his siblings were so warm, kind, and talented. It’s challenging to find success in any career, but music and entertainment seem to require a rare mixture of skill and luck. So I’ve always hoped they would get the opportunity to put their talents in front of the right people.
Last week, 23-year-old Thunderstorm Artis got that opportunity while competing on NBC’s The Voice.
Within a few seconds of his stunning rendition of Blackbird, John Legend’s jaw hit the floor. The same was true for Nick Jonas, Kelly Clarkson, and Blake Shelton.
“I am notoriously stingy about turning around for anybody,” said John Legend. “When I do turn, I usually turn around fast because I can hear in someone’s tone that magic, and Thunderstorm, your tone was magical.”
While watching I teared up. Just seeing someone so talented and kind get the opportunity of a lifetime and knock it out of the park moved me. It wasn’t a matter of whether he would do a good job if he got a shot. That’s what he does. The uncertainty was if he’d get the shot.
He did. He killed it, and I know the whole North Shore community felt immense pride watching him blow the world’s mind the same way he and his family have done for generations around town.
We’ll be watching and rooting for Thunderstorm and hoping the deserving talent gets his shot. And when it comes, he’ll be ready to knock it out of the park.