Communications

Kalani Peʻa

Cover story by Liberty Peralta, PBS Hawaiʻi

 

Kalani Peʻa

 

For Grammy- and Nā Hōkū Hanohano-winning singer Kalani Peʻa, music wasn’t just a hobby. It was therapy.

 

“I stuttered a lot as a child,” he says. “In preschool, my mom wanted me to take speech therapy. That didn’t work.”

 

A pivotal moment came when Pe‘a was only three years old, when his parents found him serenading a mannequin at a Hilo shopping mall.

 

“[My parents] were like: ‘If we put him through choir [and] vocal training, will that really help him, give him the confidence to be comfortable with himself, to be able to overcome such a challenge?’” Peʻa says.

 

The answer was a resounding “yes.” Indeed, Peʻa’s parents signed him up for vocal lessons and choir. Throughout childhood and into his college years, Peʻa would keep singing in talent shows and public performances.

 

NĀ MELE - Traditions on Hawaiian Song: Kalani Peʻa“Music saved me,” he says. “[Singing] helps me to enunciate and pronounce certain words, whether it’s in Hawaiian music or English.”

 

One word that many may find difficult to pronounce – his legal first name. “What the heck is a ‘Trazaara’?” Peʻa laughs. (It’s pronounced “trah-zah-ah-rah.”) “Trazaara is an English men’s cologne. My mom gave that to me. Sounds like an entertainer’s name, right?”

 

Growing up, Pe‘a lived with his family in a pink trailer home in Panaʻewa Homestead near Hilo. “We had lanterns; we didn’t have electricity,” he recalls. “And it was such a loving family. We weren’t rich, we weren’t poor, but I knew that we had to work hard … That home is a reminder of hard work for me.”

 

While continuing to work through his speech impediment in the third grade, he asked his parents about transferring from a mainstream English language school to a Hawaiian immersion program. “I wanted to speak [the Hawaiian language] just like my siblings,” Peʻa says.

 

He would remain in Hawaiian immersion schools, graduating from Ke Kula ʻO Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu in Keaʻau, Hawai‘i Island. Wanting to cement his speech abilities, he moved to Colorado for college and earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications.

 

Singer Kalani Pe‘a (in red cap) performing in the PBS Hawai‘i studio. He’s accompanied by Aron Nelson on piano, Nalei Pokipala on backing vocals, Henry Aiau Koa on guitar and Mark K. Vaught on bass guitar. In the foreground, from left, are Hula Hālau ‘O Kamuela dancers Julyen Kaluna, Auli‘i Faurot and Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap.
Singer Kalani Peʻa (in red cap) performing in the PBS Hawaiʻi studio. He’s accompanied by Aron Nelson on piano, Nalei Pokipala on backing vocals, Henry Aiau Koa on guitar and Mark K. Vaught on bass guitar. In the foreground, from left, are Hula Hālau ʻO Kamuela dancers Julyen Kaluna, Auliʻi Faurot and Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap.

 

“I was told that I would never be successful,” Peʻa says. “My siblings and I were told that if we spoke Hawaiian fluently, we’ll never go to college. And I went to college. We had to overcome challenges and misconceptions. That’s what I do.”

 

Music saved me

– Kalani Peʻa

 

And he does much of this through music. In a new episode of Nā Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song, Peʻa performs selections from his albums, E Walea and No ʻAneʻi, both of which won Grammy Awards for Best Regional Roots Album. Supporting Peʻa are: Henry Aiau Koa on guitar; Nalei Pokipala on backing vocals; Mark K. Vaught on bass guitar; and Aron Nelson on piano. Members of Hula Hālau ʻO Kamuela provide hula accompaniment. And from the lighting on set to his wardrobe, it’s clear that Peʻa has a trademark color, one often associated with royalty and creativity: purple.

 

For a creative like Peʻa, every moment is a chance to craft a melody. “I’m just inspired all the time, whether I’m sipping on coffee, or eating breakfast with my ʻohana …I’m all about pushing the envelope and coming up with ideas.”

 

He says the desire to strive and create are traits that have served Hawaiians well. “We’re all about collaborating with each other and finding innovative things to do,” he says. “Kalākaua was an innovative king. Kamehameha I was an innovative king, collaborating with the people of England. So when it comes to tradition, part of our traditional practices and values play a role in our lives now, but we seek balance between modern technology and our old cultural practices.”

 

Peʻa is familiar with this balancing act – honoring cultural traditions without sacrificing his personal identity. “I would call myself a modern Hawaiian, a Hawaiian of this century,” he says. “I speak Hawaiian fluently, I honor my kūpuna, I understand my values and protocol and teaching. [And] I am the guy with the purple sequined jacket. That’s who I am.”

 

 

 

NĀ MELE: TRADITIONS IN HAWAIIAN SONG
Kalani Peʻa

 

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.

 

More from Kalani Peʻa:

 

Music Saved Me

 

There’s Beauty Everywhere

 

 

 

HIKI NŌ
HIKI NŌ Class of 2019 & 2020

 

This is the final episode in a series of four specials in which outstanding HIKI NŌ graduates from the Class of 2019 (and one student from the Class of 2020) gathered at PBS Hawaiʻi to discuss their HIKI NŌ experiences and how they feel the skills they learned from HIKI NŌ will help them in college, the workplace and life.

 

This episode features Christine Alonzo, who is now a HIKI NŌ student in her senior year at Maui High School; Julia Forrest, who graduated from Waiʻanae High School on Oʻahu and is now a Public Policy major at the University of Michigan; and Tiffany Sagucio, who graduated from Kauaʻi High School and is now majoring in Communications at UH Mānoa.

 

Each student also shows a HIKI NŌ story that they worked on and discusses what they learned from the experience of working on that particular story. Christine shares her story, “Kuleana,” about the making of the independent feature film Kuleana by a Maui resident and a tight-knit local film community. Julia shows her story “Naked Cow Dairy,” about the last dairy farm on Oʻahu. Tiffany presents her story, “A Special Piece,” — a personal video essay about appreciating home on the threshold of going away to college.

 

 

 

BREAKTHROUGH: THE IDEAS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
The Smartphone

BREAKTHROUGH: THE IDEAS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD - The Smartphone

 

Dial in to the fascinating history of the smartphone, from its roots in Morse Code to 2007, when Apple unveiled the first-ever iPhone. Plus, see how the next generation of smartphones will allow us to communicate through them just by thinking.

 

Preview

 

 

 

Bank of Hawaii Foundation Renews Major Support for PBS Hawaiʻi’s HIKI NŌ

PBS HAWAI‘I – News Release

315 Sand Island Access Rd.| p: 808.462.5000| pbshawaii.org
Honolulu, HI 96819-2295| f: 808.462.5090

 

For questions regarding this press release, contact:
Jody Shiroma
jshiroma@pbshawaii.org
808.462.5026­

 

May 14, 2019

 

Download this Press Release

 

Bank of Hawaii Foundation major supporter of HIKI NŌ

(HONOLULU, HI) –– Bank of Hawaii Foundation has renewed its major support of PBS Hawaiʻiʻs youth learning initiative:  HIKI NŌ: The Nation’s First Statewide Student News Network, with a $100,000 grant. Bank of Hawaii Foundation’s investment dates back to the launch of HIKI NŌ in 2011.

 

Since then, Hawaii’s HIKI NŌ schools have gained the reputation of being formidable competitors at rigorous national journalism contests, including bringing home nearly 20% of the awards at the prestigious Student Television Network Convention held March 28-31 in Seattle, Washington and which involved over 3,000 students and teachers.

 

“Bank of Hawaii Foundation is honored to be a significant contributor to HIKI NŌ since inception,” said Momi Akimseu, president of Bank of Hawaii Foundation. “Our ongoing commitment helps local students across the islands continue the meaningful work of sharing their unique voices and perspectives in a very powerful way. We are proud to support a program of this caliber, which provides students the opportunity to develop digital storytelling skills and the means to connect their relevant stories and experience with our local community.”

 

PBS Hawaiʻi President and CEO Leslie Wilcox said the Foundation’s belief in Hawaiʻi’s youth is fueling a statewide “launch pad” for student achievement in real-world life skills such as perseverance, critical thinking, oral and written communications, teamwork and technology.

 

Under their teachers’ guidance, middle and high school students from more than 90 public, private and charter schools from across the islands use digital media to report from their communities.

 

Bank of Hawaii Foundation is HIKI NŌ’s trailblazing lead sponsor, with other major sponsors Kamehameha Schools and ABC Stores.

 

HIKI NŌ airs on PBS Hawaiʻi at 7:30 pm Thursdays, and is rebroadcast at 3:00 pm on Sundays. The student newscasts are always available to view on demand at www.pbshawaii.org.

 

 

 

PBS Hawai‘i names Jody Shiroma as Vice President of Communications

PBS HAWAI‘I – News Release

315 Sand Island Access Rd.| p: 808.462.5000| pbshawaii.org
Honolulu, HI 96819-2295| f: 808.462.5090

 

For questions regarding this press release, contact:
Jody Shiroma
jshiroma@pbshawaii.org
808.462.5026­

 

February 7, 2019

 

Download this Press Release

 

Jody Shiroma, Vice President, Communications

 

(Honolulu, HI)—PBS Hawaiʻi’s new Vice President of Communications is Jody Shiroma, who will increase opportunities for community access, engagement and partnerships, and oversee the expansion of the multimedia station’s community advisory groups across the islands.

 

Shiroma brings more than 16 years of professional experience, most recently serving as Aloha United Way’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications for 12 years. Prior to that, she was Editor-in-Chief for Sassy and G Magazine, a local youth publication with over 25,000 in distribution.

 

Jody grew up in Hawaiʻi and is a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Ethnic Studies. She is a recipient of numerous business awards, including the Hawaiʻi Kai Jaycees’ Outstanding Young Person of the Year, Pacific Business News’ 40 under 40, Pacific Business News’ Women Who Mean Business, and the FBI Honolulu Division Director of Community Leadership Award. She served as a United Way Fellow in 2013.

 


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