Grifford "Kamaka" Tom was born and raised on O'ahu and attended Kaimuki High School. He graduated from the University of Hawaii with Bachelor's Degrees in Elementary Education and Arts-Hawaiian Studies.
He is self-taught on 'ukulele, guitar, bass and studied steel guitar under Jerry Byrd and Alan Akaka. Kamaka Tom has been a private tutor of Hawaiian slack key guitar and steel guitar at private school grades 10-12. He was the bandleader of the Aloha Serenaders and provided live Hawaiian trio music with steel guitar and hula weekly at the Moana Surfrider hotel's Banyan Court Veranda stage. He is self-taught on 'ukulele, guitar, and bass and received steel guitar training from Jerry Byrd and Alan Akaka.
Kamaka Tom is the past president and secretary-treasurer of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association where he led and assisted with convention planning for the HSGA Joliet, Illinois, and Fort Collins, Colorado, annual conventions, and coordinated the biennial HSGA conventions in Honolulu. He is also the coordinator of the yearly HSGA steel guitar concerts at the Mayor's Annual Lei Festival (May 1) in Waikiki.
His hobbies include carpentry, gardening, music, shoreline fishing/free diving, and cooking.