Grassroots

Royal Talent
The Lim Family of Kohala, Hawai‘i Island

Siblings Sonny Lim, Nani Lim Yap, Lorna Lim and Leialoha Lim Amina

 

Cover Story: Royal Talent, The Lim Family of Kohala, Hawai‘i Island

By Liberty Peralta, PBS Hawai‘i

 

Royalty and talent. Chances are, it’s rare you’ve met someone – much less an entire family – who could truly lay claim to both.

 

For the Lim Family of Kohala, Hawai‘i Island, royalty and talent course through their veins.

 

The Lims’ lineage can be traced back to Alapa‘i Nui, the chief who once ruled Hawai‘i Island. As the birthplace of King Kamehameha the Great, and the residence of high chiefs (ali‘i nui), the Kohala district is featured in many ancestral stories.

 

“Kohala’s history had a lot of royalty,” says Lorna Lim. “A lot of the families still exist today. They keep family stories alive through chants and mele.”

 

The musically talented Lims are one of those families, with each family member well-versed in music, chants and hula. The six Lim siblings are: Leialoha Lim Amina, Nani Lim Yap, Charmaine “Minnie” Lim Davis, Elmer Jr. “Sonny” Lim, Lorna Lim and James “Kimo” K.H. Lim. Kimo died in a helicopter accident in 1997.

 

Their mother, the late singer Mary Ann Lim, was hired as a cook, then as an entertainer, at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in the 1960s. Naturally, the performances became a family affair.

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX. Get to know two Lim family members through in-depth conversations: entertainer and kumu hula Nani Lim Yap and her son, fashion designer and hula practitioner Manaola Yap.To this day, the Lim children continue to carry the family’s musical torch. Nani, Sonny and Lorna still perform regularly at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, as well as the nearby Mauna Lani Hotel. They also frequent Japan to perform, and have traveled as far as Europe to entertain audiences.

 

“We’re real grassroots,” says Nani, whose husband Ed Yap is also an integral part of this musical family. “We’ve not really advertised what we do, who we are. I think it’s just [people] seeing what we do.”

 

This month, PBS Hawai‘i viewers can see for themselves what the Lim family can do. A new episode of Nā Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song, recorded in our Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Multimedia Studio, features the Lims in a new setting, but a familiar scene: surrounded by music and family. Among the songs they perform are: “Ka‘anoi Pua-Pua Olena,” “Lei Ana O Kohala,” “He Hene Ahahana,” “Ka Wahine O Ka Lua” and “Pau Hana Rag.” Among the featured hula dancers are: Leialoha Lim Amina; Lorna’s daughter Wehi; and Nani’s daughter Asia.

 

NĀ MELE: Traditions in Hawaiian Song | Monday, January 28,7:30 pm

 

There’s more. In a new episode of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, Nani Lim Yap reminisces about growing up with her siblings on Parker Ranch, going on long rides in the family’s Rambler station wagon, and overcoming stage fright. “I performed before as a dancer, but not as a singer,” she explains. “I could not look at the crowd.” Today, in addition to her regular Kohala hotel gigs with Sonny and Lorna, Nani is also an accomplished kumu hula.

 

And in a Long Story Short encore, we revisit our conversation with Nani’s son, Manaola Yap. A fashion designer who made a splash at the 2017 New York Fashion Week, he’s also a musician, hula practitioner and chanter.

 

“I do not name myself to be a designer that went to school and did all of that because that’s not me,” Manaola says. “I specifically come from the background and the understanding of the traditions of hula and the dance in its most traditional element.”

 

It all comes back to the Lims’ commitment to tradition and storytelling. “Hula, it is bringing those words to a living form,” says Lorna. “And then you realize that mele are portals back in time. You bring this song [from the past] back to life, and come right back here to our time.”

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX: Guest Manaola Yap will be broadcast Tuesday, January 15, 7:30 pm. Guest Lani Lim Yapʻs show will be broadcast Tuesday, January 22, 7:30 pm

 

 

 

 

THE NEW ENVIRONMENTALISTS
From Guatemala to the Congo

 

“The New Environmentalists” share a common goal, safeguarding the Earth’s natural resources from exploitation and pollution. The Emmy Award-winning series narrated by actor/activist Robert Redford features portraits of six passionate and dedicated activists around the globe who have placed themselves squarely in harm’s way to battle intimidating adversaries for environmental justice in their communities. They are the six winners of the San Francisco-based Goldman Environmental Prize, recognizing grassroots environmental activists from around the world.

 

From Guatemala to the Congo
The new environmentalists share a common goal, safeguarding the Earth’s natural resources from exploitation and pollution. The program features portraits of six passionate and dedicated activists around the globe who have placed themselves squarely in harm’s way to battle intimidating adversaries for environmental justice in their communities.

 

 

NATURE
Leave It to Beavers

 

A growing number of scientists, conservationists and grassroots environmentalists have come to regard beavers as overlooked tools in the effort to reverse the disastrous effects of global warming and worldwide water shortages. View these industrious rodents, once valued for their fur or hunted as pests, in a new light through the eyes of this novel assembly of beaver enthusiasts and “employers” who reveal the ways in which the presence of beavers can transform and revive landscapes.

 

 

American Creed

 

The stories in AMERICAN CREED are told from the points of view of unlikely activists who creatively bridge cultural, economic and/or political divides. In his hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, baseball manager Joe Maddon brings new immigrants and long-time residents together after a controversial local election. In Oklahoma, Lindbergh Elementary School Principal Deidre Prevett, a dual citizen of Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the US, fights for the struggling children and transient families of many different ethnicities who pass through her hometown of East Tulsa. Acclaimed novelist Junot Diaz, from urban New Jersey, and Marine Sgt. Tegan Griffith, from rural Wisconsin, work in very different spheres to achieve “the dream of an America where we can be on each other’s side.” Based in Seattle, Eric Liu brings community organizers together across ideological divides. By “being open and listening,” the founders of the grassroots organizations MoveOn.org and the Tea Party Patriots unexpectedly find common ground. In the Arkansas Delta, where mechanization threatens agricultural jobs, entrepreneurs Leila Janah and Terrence Davenport start an innovative technology company based on what they see as America’s promise of equal opportunity
for all.

 

 

GREAT MUSEUMS
Elevated Thinking: The High Line in New York City

 

Explore a uniquely captivating public space – High Line Park in New York City. Recycled from a defunct elevated railroad, High Line Park hovers 30 feet in the air and winds through 22 blocks of Manhattan. This “self-sown wilderness” of woodlands, thickets, prairies and meadows rises above busy streets and runs from the historic Meatpacking neighborhood through the Chelsea Art District to Hell’s Kitchen.

 

AMERICAN MASTERS
A Fierce Green Fire

 

Experience the battle for a living planet in the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement, spanning 50 years of grassroots and global activism. Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep narrate.