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KS Kapālama seniors will enter the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena Friday to participate in the 102nd annual Song Contest, competing in the boys’ and girls’ competitions for the first and only time due to the event being reimagined the last two years.

Senior Song Contest directors eager to showcase leadership grounded in legacy and aloha

Mar. 9, 2022

The return of Song Contest to the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena after a two-year hiatus does little to rattle the nerves of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama seniors Kīwaʻa Hermosura and Mālie Lyman. Instead, both take the stage to lead classmates, who are competing for the first and only time in the boys’ and girls’ competitions, eager to showcase leadership grounded in legacy and aloha.

This year’s theme, “Ola Mau ‘o Kamehameha: Celebrating our Kamehameha Musical Legacy,” pays tribute to Kamehameha’s beloved choral traditions and features classic music literature rooted in choral heritage.

Hermosura selected the mele, “Pehea Hoʻi Au,” written and arranged by Charles E. King, for the senior boys to present. He hopes in his role as director, the audience can sense the level of passion and maturity needed to relay the message of the song.

“I’m somewhat of an old spirit, so when we were given the list of songs, I went straight to Pehea Hoʻi Au,” Hermosura said. “These classical songs are important to me because they serve as the foundation to our culture. It’s important that we continue to keep these mele alive.”

Born and raised in Haleleʻa, Hanalei, Kauaʻi, Hermosura credits his musical foundation to Sundays spent singing at Waiʻoli Huiʻia Church, learning traditional Hawaiian mele from church directors and descendants of the musical troupe the Maka Trio, including children Akiko, Omi and Mitsu. 

“My extended ʻohana, the Maka ‘ohana, continue to play a big role in my journey and relationship with music,” Hermosura said. “As boarders, when we were sent home during the pandemic, I took the time to really connect with the mele of my ‘ohana, of my ‘āina and of Hawaiʻi, with the goal hopefully being able to share that foundation as Song Contest director.”  

Lyman added that it wasn’t until she was accepted into KS Kapālama in the seventh grade that she even thought about being involved in Song Contest. Great-granddaughter of the late Genoa Keawe, Lyman’s first memory of music began with hula at the age of three. Five years later, her mother, Pōmaikaʻi, enrolled her in steel guitar lessons, which she picked up quickly and eventually ventured into vocals and other instruments alike.

“Kamehameha Schools has opened up so many doors for me, personally and musically,” said Lyman, who will be leading the senior girls in, “Kuʻu Lei ʻAwapuhi” arranged by Walter E. Tullis.

“I chose this mele because there is a distinct sweet sound that makes you feel like you’re floating,” Lyman said. “Our girls’ voices are mature enough to carry the call-and-response which is special because it’s usually guys singing it and there’s a different feeling when coming from a woman.”

Both Hermosura and Lyman acknowledge their class has been patiently waiting for Friday’s competition and hope to build upon the winning legacy established by senior co-ed director Chase Kamikawa their freshman year. Kamikawa captured the Louise Aoe McGregor Award, presented to the most outstanding student director, tying with then-junior Taisamasama Kaʻiminaʻauao-Eteuati KSK’20.

“What I love about Song Contest is it’s purely student led. Everything from the emceeing to singing and hōʻike is led by us,” Lyman said. “Being in the director position has given me a new perspective on leadership and working with others, and while [we] don’t know the outcome until the end, when you lead with aloha, everything will fall into place.”

For more information on the 102nd annual Song Contest visit: ksbe.edu/songcontest/2022.


Born and raised in Hanalei, Kauaʻi, Kīwaʻa Hermosura credits his musical foundation to Sundays spent singing at Waiʻoli Huiʻia Church. He will lead the senior boys in, "Pehea Hoʻi Au," written and arranged by Charles E. King at Friday's Song Contest.


Mālie Lyman notes that it wasn’t until she was accepted into KS Kapālama in the seventh grade that she even thought about being involved in Song Contest. The first-time Song Contest director will lead the senior girls in, "Kuʻu Lei ʻAwapuhi," arranged by Walter E. Tullis.



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