Is Maui singer Kalani Pe’a a game changer in Hawaiian music?

Congratulations to Kalani Pe’a for winning a Grammy for his Hawaiian music. Interesting aspects of his style and talent are brought out in this profile in Maui Times by Jade Boren:

While modern music genres and icons like Beyoncé and Luther Vandross inspire Pe‘a, he takes the Hawaiian aspect of his album seriously–if not more. Pe‘a is a fluent Hawaiian speaker who graduated from Ke Kula ‘o Nawahiokalani ‘opu‘u, the Hawaiian Language School in Kea‘au, Puna, in 2001. But Pe‘a is not just an academic Hawaiian. He speaks the language at the dinner table with his family. Pe‘a is also a strong advocate for Hawaiian music to receive its own category at the Grammy Awards.

“Our Hawaiian language must thrive,” he says. “Our people must thrive. And in order for me to do that, I must share that through the composition, through the melodies, and every song.”

For Pe‘a, his album is not merely a collection of songs that happen to be sung in Hawaiian. Rather than looking at the Hawaiian lyrics as a second language, Pe‘a treats them as poetry. That is where the meaning of Pe‘a’s album reveals itself–the poetics. Although the literal meaning of E Walea is “to come together like birds, be elated, exuberant and enjoy,” there are more hidden messages, kaona, to be discovered in Pe‘a’s songs.

Read full article HERE.

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