KS Kapālama Song Contest and KS Hawaiʻi Hōʻike to showcase and elevate mele Hawaiʻi

Mar. 4, 2024

Mele Hawaiʻi will take center stage during two flagship events for the haumāna of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama and Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi.

On Friday, March 15, the 104th annual Kamehameha Schools Song Contest will take place at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center arena. This year’s theme is: “Noho Nō a Hoʻomanaʻo Aʻe” and will honor legendary musician, composer and performer Bill Aliʻiloa Lincoln. ʻAnakala Bill is remembered warmly for not only his compositions but also his distinctive Hawaiian falsetto voice. Lincoln’s career spanned nearly eight decades, and his mele was beloved in Hawaiʻi and on the U.S. continent.

Kapālama haumāna will be performing mele from his vast collection. Song contest directors will feature winners from previous years, including Selah Fronda who will lead the papa 12 girls and Taitea Sunaoka who will lead the combined papa 12 class.

“To me, it is a privilege and a great kuleana and to be an alakaʻi mele. One of my favorite things about being a song contest director is being able to see my class get excited to sing mele Hawaiʻi and to hear all of their parts come together,” Sunaoka said.

The song director for papa 9 is Evan Kamahaʻo Haumea-Thronas whose popularity has exploded since making a huge splash after his memorable Hōʻike performance during the 2023 Song Contest.

104th Annual Kamehameha Schools Song Contest

Live broadcast
Friday, March 15 on K5

Pre-show 7 p.m.
Competition 7:30 p.m.
Livestream: www.ksbe.edu/songcontest

Encore presentations
Sunday, March 17 | 2 p.m. on KHNL
Thursday, March 21 | 7 p.m. on KGMB

Meanwhile on Hawaiʻi Island, lovers of mele Hawaiʻi can expect a boundary-expanding experience during Hōʻike on March 14 and 15 at the Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi campus. This year’s edition will be a revival of “Kū I Ka Mana”, the ground-breaking rock opera first performed on campus in 2018 featuring a mixture of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi and ʻōlelo Pelekānia. 

“Kū I Ka Mana” tells the story of the tumultuous 1874 royal election which pitted King Kalākaua against Queen Emma. 2024 marks the 150th anniversary of that pivotal event in Hawaiʻi history.

The 2024 redux of “Kū I Ka Mana” will have a much different feel than the original with new choreography and production design inspired by a dystopian future (a la Hunger Games). And as composer and kumu Herb Mahelona KSK’85 explains, there’s a new twist this year – a class competition.

“Each class is responsible for a song from the opera and a corresponding hula which will be judged over the course of the two performances. The entire production will be accompanied by members of the high school band.”

Mahelona also added: “The choice to create rock operas was to make the history more accessible to the haumāna and the audience and to contemporize the issues that our aliʻi had to face as they tried to balance preserving the lāhui and adapting to deal with foreign influences.”

“Kū I Ka Mana” will take place March 14 and 15 at the KS Hawaiʻi Koaiʻa High School Gym. You can get tickets here.