For a young Kalani Peʻa, music wasn’t just a hobby he enjoyed – it was also therapy, as he worked through a childhood speech impediment. On a new Nā Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song, the Grammy and Nā Hōkū-winning singer and his band perform selections from his albums, E Walea and No ʻAneʻi in the PBS Hawaiʻi studio. Discover Peʻa’s humble beginnings in Panaʻewa, Hawaiʻi Island, his creative drive and how music changed his life.
Slack key musician and singer-songwriter Kawika Kahiapo is a longtime member of the PBS Hawaiʻi ʻohana. In 2008, he wrote the theme song for our “PBS Hawai‘i and You” campaign. He then served on our Board of Directors for six years, from 2009 through 2015. Kahiapo makes his NĀ MELE debut, performing music inspired by his lifelong home, Windward Oʻahu.
The young trio Hūʻewa is comprised of Kupu Dalire-Naʻauao, Kekoa Kane and Kahi Lum-Young. The trio performs songs. Dalire-Naʻauao explains, “The Hawaiian music that we chose, the type of songs that we chose…we just like to pull things from back in the day.”
Chad Takatsugi has found his voice as a haku mele, a songwriter. While this isn’t his first Nā Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song– he performed on the program with his band ‘Ale‘a in 2003 – this performance, alongside guitarist Ryan Gonzalez and bassist Glenn Mayeda Jr., finds him in a new season of his life, with a different story to tell.
Ledward Kaapana remembers his Uncle Fred Punahoa playing the song “Radio Hula” in Kalapana. “In the morning, like one, two o’clock in the morning ... In Kalapana, it’s so quiet, so… you know, and it’s dark, and so, he used to just sit outside on the porch, and play his guitar. I don’t know if you ever experienced sleeping … and hear one guitar just playing sweet music that just wake you up and like, ‘Oh, so sweet,’” Kaapana remembers. Kaapana, along with his sisters Lehua Nash, Rhoda Kekona, and Lei Aken play in his Kaneohe garage on a rainy evening.
This special Nā Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song features Ledward and his sisters Lei Aken, Lehua Nash and Rhoda Kekona, playing their music in Ledward’s garage. Ledward’s falsetto voice leads off with “Nani,” and Lei, Lehua and Rhoda take vocal solos on “Kaneohe,” “Kalapana” and “Holei.”
Richard Ho‘opi‘i and George Kahumoku Jr. walked into the PBS Hawai‘i studio, sat down with their instruments, and began to play. George, with his mellow slack key guitar and soothing voice, performing alongside Richard, with his never ending smile and his beautiful falsetto, offered song after song, with talk story in-between. This impromptu concert can only be described as pure joy.
Kale Hannahs, David Kamakahi and Matt Sproat of the acclaimed Hawaiian music group Waipuna present their interpretation of Hawaiian music, accompanied by hula dancer Jaimie Kennedy. From “Malama Mau Hawai‘i,” a selection from Waipuna’s first album, to “E Mau Ke Aloha,” composed by David’s father, Dennis Kamakahi, Waipuna will take you through a joyful musical cycle.
As a young child, Josh Tatofi thought he had an ordinary life. “I thought everyone’s dad was a rock star, and I thought everyone was playing music,” he says. His father, Tivaini Tatofi, was a founding member of local island music group Kapena. “I didn’t really know that my childhood was special until way later,” says the younger Tatofi.
Ahumanu, an all-wāhine Hawaiian music trio from Maui is featured on this episode of Nā Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song. Members Kekai Robinson, Marja Lehua Apisaloma and Liz Morales say their work in the community outside the entertainment realm brings to their music a dimension of authenticity, service and responsibility.
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