Kamehameha Schools cultivates a strong Native Hawaiian identity in its learners giving them the confidence and resiliency to thrive. The members of Keauhou are stellar examples KS alumni who have embraced their Hawaiian heritage and are inspiring others to do it as well.
This year’s Na Hōkū Hanohano Awards, presented by the Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts, will have a definite Kamehameha Schools flair.
Keauhou – a trio comprised of KS Kapālama graduates Jonah Solatorio, Nicholas Lum and brother Zachary Lum – leads the field with 12 nominations in nine categories for its debut album “Keauhou.”
Maui-based KS Hawaiian Resource Coordinator Kalani Peʻa is second with nine nominations in nine categories for his Grammy Award-winning debut album, “E Walea.”
The members of Keauhou found their roots through their involvement in the many musical and cultural opportunities offered at KS. They all sang in concert glee, and both Lum brothers played in the school marching band and were Song Contest student directors.
In fact, their group name was suggested by former KSK administrator Hailama Farden, who currently serves as KS regional director for Kona, O‘ahu. When the trio played music in Midkiff Library, they stood under the waʻa named “Makani Hou o Keauhou.”
“Mele has given each of us a platform to preserve our language, culture and music,” Solatorio said. “Through this album, we hope to inspire the next generation of Hawaiians not only to learn about their culture, but also to take an active role in their culture as well. We want to inspire keiki to learn the songs of their kūpuna and then possibly compose their own mele Hawaiʻi.”
Keauhou’s 12 finalist nominations include three in the adjudicated Haku Mele category for best newly written Hawaiian language song – one by each member of the group.
Solatorio’s original composition, “Kāhiko Kapālama,” is a tribute to the educational legacy of Kamehameha.
“It was composed in honor of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop and the legacy that she has provided for the children of Hawaiʻi,” Solatorio said. “The first line, ‘Kahiko Kapālama i ke aloha,’ means that ‘Kapālama is adorned with affection.’ The mele speaks of the aloha that I have for this special place, Kapālama, where many young pua a Pauahi have been blessed with the gift of education.” (Listen to a clip of the mele here.)
The members of Keauhou all work in education-related fields and are either pursuing their master’s degrees or have already achieved them.
Zachary Lum is the director of Choral Music at KSK High School. He arranged several songs for this year’s Song Contest and teaches boy’s chorus, concert glee and a new class called Project Kuleana, which aspires to increase the innate value of Hawaiian music – and the performance of it – to inspire people to reflect on their own kuleana.
He is currently a master’s degree candidate in ethnomusicology at UH Mānoa.
Solatorio is also a KSK kumu, at the forefront of KS’ initiative to normalize ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi for students. He recently graduated with his master’s in education from UH Mānoa.
Nicholas Lum is currently a graduate assistant in the College of Education at UH Mānoa under the Hawaiian Immersion Assessment project. The project’s main focus is to create standardized tests for immersion schools so they may be assessed in their own language, ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, as opposed to taking the tests in English.
He is also a master’s candidate in the Hawaiian language program at UH Mānoa.
“We hope this collection of mele can be one of many pua in a lei haʻaheo for our lāhui. Our humble contribution pays tribute to that which we were given by our teachers, in hopes of passing these sensibilities for our music to those who will add the next pua to this lei,” Zachary Lum said.
“Their level of musicianship, professionalism and cultural grounding is astounding, especially when you consider that they’re just starting their music careers,” said multiple Hōkū award winner and KS Advertising and Direct Marketing Manager Chad Takatsugi.
Takatsugi’s debut solo album “Ahuwale” tied for most Hōkū awards last year with a total of four.
“If their debut is any indication of things to come, we should all expect great things from Keauhou,” he added.
The 40th annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards ceremony is slated for Saturday, May 20, at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.
STRATEGIC PLAN 2020
SP2020 is a five-year strategic plan that will guide Kamehameha Schools from 2015 to 2020. The plan marks a starting point toward KS’ Vision 2040, which envisions success for all Native Hawaiian learners.
Kamehameha educators across the state support Goal 3 of SP2020 which calls for KS to cultivate a strong Native Hawaiian identity in learners for the betterment of the lāhui and Action 5 of Kamehameha’s Ten Actions for fiscal year 2017, which calls for KS to integrate cultural principles system-wide.
February 21, 2017
Kamehameha’s Kalani Peʻa dedicates his Grammy award to the students and families that KS serves every day
October 16, 2015
Musician and composer Chad Takatsugi’s debut solo CD “Ahuwale” features the mele “He Wehi No Pauahi,” with lyrics written by fellow KS alumnus Kahikina de Silva.