music

Some Kind of Spark

 

This film follows kids from New York as they begin the life-changing experience of studying on Juilliard’s music advancement programme, an outreach class for communities that are underrepresented in the arts. This is a new world for these children, and demands are high. Ultimately, the film aims to serve as an inspiration for other programmes to nurture two of our most valuable national treasures: our children and our musical heritage.

 

 

THE AMERICAN EPIC SESSIONS

 

Jack White and T Bone Burnett lead an epic recording session using the only working 1920s recording device in existence in this tribute to the artists celebrated in the American Epic documentary series. Stripped of the comforts and security of modern technology, the artists have three minutes and one chance to get their music etched into the surface of a revolving wax disc before the weight hits the floor. Conceived as a sonic experiment – an attempt to recreate the conditions of the early record company field teams – the result is a series of performances by leading artists pushed to meet the standards of their heroes. Going back to basics and capturing the energy of a unique live performance, these recordings are heard exactly as they were made. Musicians featured include: Alabama Shakes, Ana Gabriel, Ashley Monroe, The Avett Brothers, Beck, Bettye LaVette, Bobby Ingano, Elton John, Los Lobos, Nas, Raphael Saadiq, Rhiannon Giddens, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Taj Mahal, Jack White, and Willie Nelson.

 

 

PBS HAWAI‘I PRESENTS
Hidden Legacy: Japanese Traditional Performing Arts in the WWII Internment Camps

 

Using historical footage and interviews from artists who were interned, this film tells the story of how traditional Japanese cultural arts were maintained at a time when the War Relocation Authority emphasized the importance of assimilation and Americanization. Included are stories of artists in the fields of music, dance and drama who were interned at Tule Lake, Manzanar, Amache/Granada, Rohwer, Gila River and Topaz.

 

 

NĀ MELE
Weldon Kekauoha

By Emilie Howlett

 

Hawaiian musician Weldon Kekauoha has been crafting beloved musical arrangements and sharing them with Hawai‘i, the continental U.S. and beyond for over 30 years. He’s enjoyed a successful solo career, amassing multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards and, in 2014, a Grammy nomination. For the past 15 years, he has been going to Japan to perform, finding an enthusiastic audience there that has embraced the Hawaiian culture.

 

Weldon Kekauoha performs on Nā Mele. Photo: Richard Drake.

 

Nā Mele: Weldon Kekauoha

Premieres Monday, February 26, 7:30 pm on PBS Hawaiʻi

Watch online at pbshawaii.org starting Tuesday, February 27

 

Kekauoha gave a soulful performance in PBS Hawai‘i’s Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Multimedia Studio, for the taping of our newest Nā Mele. In this episode of our traditional Hawaiian music series, guitarist Jack Ofoia, bassist Alika Boy Kalauli IV and hula dancer Yuko Hashimoto accompany Kekauoha with a performance set against dramatic photo backdrops of Hawai‘i landscapes.

 

Identifying himself as a contemporary artist with a traditional foundation, Kekauoha goes in-depth about the meaning behind his songs, his experience as a longtime performer and the importance of music in his life.

 

He also addresses an incident at the Halekulani Hotel in 2013. While enjoying the pool during a weekend getaway at the Waikīkī hotel, Kekauoha and his family were asked by security guards to verify that they were guests. The guards were acting on another hotel guest’s suspicion that the Kekauohas did not belong at the pool because they were locals.

 

Kekauoha vented about the incident on Facebook. The post went viral, sparking widespread outrage. The hotel apologized, but for Kekauoha to be a target of discrimination in the same neighborhood where he and many other Hawaiian musicians made a name for themselves was a bitter irony for him.

 

Today, Kekauoha says he doesn’t harbor any ill feelings toward the hotel. “Hopefully it brought a little bit more of an awareness,” he says. “Racism can rear its head often, and we’ve got to always be vigilant to try and keep it in its place.” Thankfully, as Kekauoha knows intimately from his world travels, nothing breaks down barriers of difference better than the art of sharing music.

 

In these excerpts from an interview with Kekauoha and Jason Suapaia, PBS Hawai‘i’s Vice President of Integrated Media Production, Kekauoha highlights the many ways music has touched his life.

 

 

PBS Hawai‘i: How important is music in perpetuating the Hawaiian culture?

Weldon Kekauoha: Very, very important. People say hula has been able to sustain that part of the culture, and from there, so much of the [Hawaiian] Renaissance has been able to flourish. More interest has grown because of hula, and music has always been there in the background.

 

I think music is a little bit of a different animal, only because it’s so open for creativity and influence. If you look at so much of the history of Hawaiian music – in Hawai‘i, on the U.S. mainland, even abroad – it’s incredible to see how much the music has changed from being super traditional, and then going way out from it, to being commercialized.  And I mean that in a good way. There’s of course some negative aspects to it, and then “Hollywood-ized,” if you will. Then it took a long while to bring it back [to the traditional], because it just got so way out from the original intent of our culture. But it’s neat to see the revival of all that is Hawaiian, and the new pride that has been fostered from it. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the next 20 years.

 

Kekauoha, left, performs on Nā Mele with bassist Alika Boy Kalauli IV and hula dancer Yuko Hashimoto. Photo: Richard Drake

 

How has music touched your life, and your family’s life, and what would it be without music?

I can’t imagine how it would be without music. It’s always been there, it’s always been in the background for me at some level. And obviously, now, where I am, it’s what I do and it’s what I’m known for. I feel blessed that I get to do what I love to do. Oftentimes, people are looking for something to do that they enjoy, and I think if it wasn’t for music, I would probably embrace whatever it is that I was doing, and that would become perhaps my passion and I’d make it work. That’s your job. If you’re not happy, you gotta change.  But if you get to know your job well, and you love it, it’s a different type of enjoyment.  In this case, it’s always been something I’ve enjoyed since I was a young boy. To be able to carry it over into sustaining me, my family and my life all this time, I’ve been lucky.   And it’s still a work in progress. It’s like any other business; you gotta kind of take care of it, and try to make sure you have something good to sell, something good to give people. And you just continue with good relationships and good performances, and all that that entails. Having a good business is pretty much what you should shoot for.

 

When people listen to your music, what do you hope they will get from it? 

I just hope that they would like my music, for whatever reason – whether it strikes a chord in them, or reminds them of something. Even I am totally susceptible; I can listen to a song and it just takes me back somewhere. And that’s the power of music. I always remember how strong music can be. I just hope [listeners] take away something. I don’t expect one song to be like a huge, life-changing moment for anybody, but if I can have a place in someone’s heart or mind because of my music, I think that would be my goal. I want them to take away something from my music that they will always remember, whether it’s a feeling or the melody.

 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

 

 

PBS HAWAI‘I PRESENTS
Ohta-san: Virtuosity and Legacy

 

Herb Ohta is one of the giants of the ‘ukulele who snatched the simple four-stringed instrument out of the background and planted it firmly at the front of the stage. In this special, Herb Ohta, known as Ohta-San, brings his solo ukulele riffs to the PBS Hawai‘i studios, playing numbers such as “Rhapsody in Blue,” “The Girl from Ipanema,” and his chart-topping ballad, “Song for Anna.” He also teams up with his son, Herb Ohta Jr., for their take on the Hawaiian classics “Hi’ilawe” and “Sanoe.”

 

 

GREAT PERFORMANCES
NAS Live From the Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop

 

Groundbreaking hip-hop artist Nas performs a symphonic rendition of his seminal debut album Illmatic with the National Symphony Orchestra. Nas paints a densely textured lyrical portrait of life in a New York City public housing project.

 

 

Alicia Keys –
Landmarks Live In Concert: A Great Performances Special

ALICIA KEYS -LANDMARKS LIVE IN CONCERT: A GREAT PERFORMANCES SPECIAL

 

Grammy-winner Alicia Keys performs in notable locations all around New York City, including the world-famous Circle Line, the Unisphere and Harlem’s Apollo.

 

 

LIVE FROM THE ARTISTS DEN
Lady Antebellum

 

With a new sense of history and possibilities, Lady Antebellum’s sixth studio album HEART BREAK had the group on a new mission — setting aside time to put themselves in new surroundings, and concentrate on writing and exploring musical endeavors with no distractions. With busbee in the producer’s chair, the trio had a hand in writing eleven songs on HEART BREAK, resulting in their most intimate and heartfelt work to date.

 

 

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