Maui-based KS Hawaiian Resource Coordinator/singer-songwriter Kalani Pe‘a recently earned a Grammy Award nomination for his debut album, “E Walea.” He dedicates his album to the children of Pauahi and the families KS serves every day.
Kamehameha Schools cultivates a strong Native Hawaiian identity in its learners giving them the confidence and resiliency to thrive. Kalani Pe‘a is a stellar example of the many caring KS educators who enrich Pauahi’s keiki.
KS Hawaiian Resource Coordinator and singer-songwriter Kalani Pe‘a instilled a powerful belief in the students he has taught over the years – one that inspires them to reach for the stars:
Hiki ia‘u ke aloha ‘āina, aloha ‘ōlelo, aloha lāhui, no ka mea, hiki ia‘u ke hana i nā mea a pau o ka ‘ōnaeao. “I can show love of my land, love of my language, love of my people because I am capable of doing anything in the universe.”
This belief – grounded in Hawaiian culture – propelled Pe‘a to record industry success this week, when his debut album “E Walea” earned a Grammy Award nomination in the program’s Best Regional Roots Music Album category. He is the only Hawai‘i musician to be nominated this year.
“I am filled with joy and gratitude to be able to represent my kūpuna, mākua, ‘ohana and the communities I serve on a world stage,” said Pe‘a, who bawled for 10 minutes straight upon hearing of the nomination. “I mahalo Ke Akua and our ‘aumakua for their blessings and teachings!”
His album, “E Walea” – which means to be elated, exuberant and joyful – features seven haku mele (original Hawaiian language compositions) and five of Pe‘a’s favorite cover songs.
Three of the mele are close to Pe‘a’s heart because they were written by KS colleagues for campus and community education programs:
“Oli Mahalo no Maui” was composed by Pe‘a and Kanoe Kamali’i-Ligsay, a KS Maui learning designer and facilitator. The melody was composed by KS Hawai‘i High School Hawaiian language kumu Kalehua Simeona. It serves as the oli kāhea/komo in KS’ Ipukukui and Ho‘olauna Maui programs.
“Eō Lononuiākea” was composed by Makana Garma, an education officer for KS’ Public Education Support Division – Kauhale Kīpaipai. The mele oli was sung by students in the Ho‘olauna Kona program from 2008-2012.
“Makawalu ke Ānuenue” was composed by Simeona in 2011 for the KSH musical, “Hā‘upu.” Pe‘a created his own melody to the song with an R&B feel and Hawaiian flair.
Music has opened many doors for Pe‘a, a native of Pana‘ewa, Hilo. At age 4, he was diagnosed with a speech impediment. Conventional speech therapy did not help him, so his parents tried singing. He went on to capture titles in countless vocal competitions, including Brown Bags to Stardom.
Today, Pe‘a creates Hawaiian language and cultural curriculum for KS’ Maui-based programs including ‘āina- and project-based lessons.
“I humbly dedicate this album to the haumāna in our programs – nā pua a Pauahi (children of Pauahi) and the families we serve each day. I am a singer/songwriter and educator, because it’s my kuleana. It’s my passion. It’s my life to leave a legacy for our leaders of today and tomorrow.”
Pe‘a himself is a child of Pauahi. After graduating from Ke Kula ‘o Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u in Kea‘au in 2001, he received five years of KS Nā Pua a Pauahi post-high scholarships to earn a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Colorado Mesa University. A life-long learner, he is currently working toward a master’s degree in early childhood education through an online program of Concordia University-St. Paul.
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.