Traveling to Kauai, Hawaii? Here are some happeings:
E KANIKAPILA KAKOU 2007 opened on Monday, February 12 in the true spirit of Kanikapila with two songbirds from Maui -- Lei'ohu Ryder and Maydeen I'ao.
New to the Garden Island Arts Council's popular Hawaiian music program, this delightful "package deal" comprised of two talented composer/musicians/hula dancer really GOT the grassroots concept of the program and delivered in style to the packed house audience of EKK regulars from Kaua'i, mainland snowbirds, and many first time visitors and local folks. All the new folks wondered why they had been missing such a great time all these years; all the returnees left with "it's another great year for EKK!"
Beginning with an hour for the ukulele gang where over fifty instrument-strumming participants had some special attention learning the chords and strumming of a beautiful prayer, visitors and returnees were welcomed with leis of aloha made by Fran Nestel.
GIAC co-founder Arnold Meister and EKK coordinator for ten years Nathan Kalama were recognized. Nathan chanted an "oli" for Grandma Isabella Iida who had attended EKK for the past 23 years until her recent passing. Also, acknowledged was Dave Boynton who was taken from us this past week.
Lei'ohu shared her genealogy and her family connections to Kaua'i which goes back several generations. The songs she composed had wonderful stories steeped in mythology, history, and the values held dear by her ancestors. So many practices she learned and accepted as a child took on new meaning as she came to understand them as an adult; many of these practices are written into the lyrics of her songs. She pointed out that ancestors navigate us through our lives by teaching us the values that are important, and she passes these values on in her songs.
She shared stories about growing up and how very little went unnoticed in the very small community she called home. She and other kids who helped themselves to the delicious legs of the octopus drying on the lines could not go unpunished because everyone was related so everyone's misdeed was easily found out.
A seventh grade teacher at I'ao school, Lei'ohu wanted her students to experience life that is authentic and learn the excitement of plugging into the earth. She wrote grants that made it possible to take 50 - 60 students out to the "rainbow classroom" -- the great outdoors. It was a true learning experience and reality check for the young student who brought her blow dryer along to no avail and to the colleagues who asked, "Where's the toilet?" followed by a look of dismay when Lei'ohu pointed out to the bushes.
She later shared with me that young Ikaika Brown was her student and wrote his first song at age 12 called "Kalo Man", a song that came out of such experiences that go beyond the four walls. Ikaika, his Dad Kevin Brown and sister Kaena are EKK favorites who presented at EKK several years ago.
She pointed out the importance of being free so that when the song keeps coming out from the drawer where the ukulele is stored or when the music moves, you, you need to be free to create. She and Maydeen shared the song "Kapua Hele O Kalani" which came to her when she was traveling in Switzerland. "Kaula", a haunting melody about what is left of the sacred island; legend says that Kauai and Niihau were once one island which blew apart when the first sacrifice was made. "Kilauano" is a song that offers joy to Kauai and is birthed to remember families that went before us.
Four songs were taught to the audience; it was amazing to hear so many voices harmonizing in song. In addition to the melodies that the participants found so wonderful to sing, Maydeen is like a petite bombshell that explodes into hula bringing the songs to life. For one song she invited members of the audience to dance with her.
"Na Mele O Kilauiano" speaks of the winds of Polihale. She shared the meanings hidden in the translations of the lyrics, describing the mountains and the stories and records of the ancestors that lived in the area called Polihale. This is a song she wrote with her grandmother and mentor, Mahilani Poepoe.
"Wailau", written by Lei'ohu, is a song that talks about the cloak or spirit of the ancestors. "Na Lei Oki A Kaha" is a song Lei'ohu composed for Halau Hula O Kalakaua in Okinawa.
"He Mele Ku'uipo", a wedding song that Lei'ohu had written for "George & Ewalina's wedding" was shared with the group and dedicated to newlyweds present that night -- longtime EKK participant Elaine Spence and new hubby Harold Clement who is a new receuit to EKK.
The prayer "Perfection of Grace", which was earlier taught to the ukulele group, was the last song shared. The evening was wrapped up with "Hawai'i Aloha", a song that never fails to bring a look of amazement to the faces of visitors.
This Sunday, we celebrate the 2007 EKK year with a formidable team of talents IN CONCERT -- the incomparable Ledward Kaapana, one of the slack key legends featured on the Grammy award winning Hawaiian music CD*, entertainer extraordinaire Brother Noland whose musical messages run deep and reach out to many, fantastic kiho'alu artist Hawaiian Boy Mike Kaawa, and one of the youngest and fastest rising musical talents Brittni Paiva.
The Concert is on Sunday, February 18, 7:00 pm at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center.
Tickets are available at the door.
On Monday at 6:00 pm. Noland, Mike and Brittni continue the sharing in the intimate setting of the Island School mainhall with the second week of E Kanikapila Kakou.
Not a weekend to be missed!!! Come and enjoy a Kaua'i style musical experience - E Kanikapila Kakou.
Carol Kouchi Yotsuda
Celebrating 30 years of "bringing ARTS to the people and people to the ARTS
E Kanikapila Kakou Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by the Hawai'i Tourism Authority, the County of Kaua'i Office of Economic Development, and Garden Island Arts Council supporters. Space generously provided by Island School.
Garden Island Arts Council programs are supported in part by the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts through appropriations from the Legislature of the State of Hawai'i and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
*"Hawaiian Slack Key Legends - Maui Live" produced by Daniel Ho and George Kahumoku, Jr.
Note: My painting above is called "Old Man" from my Hawaiian Legacy Series. It is a 36x48 oil on canvas. Check out my store at Cafe Press for gift items and more.