REPORT FROM HAWAII PACIFIC ENTERTAINMENT – The Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame’s 28th Annual Ka Hïmeni ‘Ana Hawaiian music competition is proud to announce the lineup of this year’s contestants. The competition and concert will be held on Saturday, August 25 at 7 p.m. at the historic Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu.
This year’s competition will feature both Hawaiian music veterans and brand-new faces; bands that have been performing for over 10 years and those that formed specifically to take part in Ka Hïmeni ‘Ana. What they all have in common is their love for the beautiful melodies of Hawaiian music.
Ha Wahine O Na Honoapi’ilani:
At a very young age, the ladies of Maui-based acapella group Ha Wahine, performing for Ka Hïmeni ‘Ana under the names of their ancestors (mo`oku`auhau), Emma Apuna Ralar, Mary Relmann Kalua, Hana Relmann Dapitan and Elaine Mullaney, were taught Hawaiian Himeni by their kupuna. They have been singing them for the past 46 years at family funerals, the Ho’ike of the Hawaiian Congregational Churches of Maui Nui A Kama and, most recently, at the 180th Anniversary of St. Francis Church in Kalaupapa, Molokai.
Kuini, comprised of Iwalani “Ho’o” Apo (ukulele), Keli Mahealani Viernes (upright bass) and Kapulanakehau Tamure (guitar), was formed by accident. When asked their name at a party they played at, the word “kuini” (queen) came up, since all the band members are transgendered. And that name has stuck ever since. Through Hawaiian music, the trio keeps their kupuna’s memories of old names, historic events and romantic drama alive.
Kaulele (it means “to soar; to accent in music”) formed to play music at Ka Hïmeni ‘Ana, but have all played the Waikiki Circuit and toured around the world in their individual careers. Ka’imi Keohokalole (upright bass), Hiram Olsen (guitar) and Casey Olsen (steel guitar) are united in their love for Hawaiian music.
Ala‘eli has been together for almost 10 years. Pal Eldredge (guitar), Waileia Eldredge, Wil Tafolo (bass), Danny Carvalho (guitar), and DJ Utu (ukulele) provide vocal and instrumental music for the May Day and Holokū performances at Punahou School. Hawaiian music is an important part of the lives of each of the group members, who have devoted much time and effort to perpetuate the music of their people.
“Lokahi” (unity and harmony) is jazz singer Keahi Conjugacion (uke/vocals), Barbara Martin (pakini, aka “washtub bass”), Albert Kaai (guitar) and Leo Cullen (uke/vocals). Although she is known for her background in jazz, frontwoman Keahi Conjugacion has always remained true to her culture and shared her love for traditional Hawaiian music with her performances. Barbara “Aunty Barb” Martin is one of the few “pakini” players on the island, a true joy to watch. Albert Kaai preserves the melodic sounds of “Ki ho ‘alu” as he contributes sweet harmony to the vocals, and Leo Cullen blends his beautiful vocals with the tender sounds of the ukulele, completing the harmony the group is named for.
This father/son duo of Grant Kono (upright bass) and his father Greg (ukulele), discovered their love for Hawaiian music at monthly kanikapila gatherings with family and friends and just playing around at home after dinner. Greg learned to play the ukulele from his second-grade teacher and, many years later, taught his son Grant to play ukulele at age 11. Their love of traditional Hawaiian music is the reason why the duo keeps returning to play at Ka Hïmeni ‘Ana – not for the prizes or accolades, but simply for the music and the “chicken-skin” feeling.
Their name means “The body has eyes,” and references each member of the Hilo-based group: Kyle Reid Koma Wana (guitar), Michael-John Kekeikiinamakaho’olili DeMello (uke/ bass) and Kinohi Pukaua o Kamehameha Neves (uke/bass). The members are all hula dancers, raised together, who love to sing, dance and haku mele.
Sons of Kapalama:
High school classmates and lifelong friends, the Sons of Kapalama formed three years ago to perpetuate traditional Hawaiian music. With their unique blend of musical talent and experience, Pomaika’i Brown (guitar), Keli’ikai Paleka (guitar), Ocean Kaowili (bass) and Sean Mullaney (ukulele) simply love Hawaiian music and the opportunity to share that love with everyone around them. While they enjoy performing at private parties or just a kanikapila in the backyard, Ka Hïmeni ‘Ana is the perfect venue for them to share their talents in their purest form, unamplified and harmonious.
Tickets to Ka Hïmeni ‘Ana can be purchased for $23 and $33 at www.hawaiitheatre.com, by calling (808) 528–0506 or at the Hawaii Theatre box office Tuesday–Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Ka Hïmeni ‘Ana, founded by Richard M. Towill, features Hawaiian music groups performing in the “nahenahe” style, the distinctive Hawaiian music form that features sweet vocal harmony supported by unamplified acoustic instruments.
Contestants vie for cash prizes; this year, the winning group will also receive four round-trip tickets to a Mainland destination of their choice, courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines.
The mission of the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame is to promote, preserve, and perpetuate Hawaiian music and hula by celebrating the achievements of significant individuals and groups.