Traditional Hawaiian music Friday |

Traditional Hawaiian music Friday

The Center for the Arts will bring Hawaiian singer and recording artist Kaumakaiwa Kanaka ‘ole to its main stage theater Friday for a concert of traditional Hawaiian music.

At 27, Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole is the voice of Hawai’i’s new generation.

A five-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winner, Kaumakaiwa is the eldest son of Kekuhi Kanahele, the eldest grandchild of Pualani Kanaka‘ole, great-grandson of Edith Kanahele Kanaka‘ole and great-great-grandson of Mary Keali‘ikekuewa.

Since birth, Kaumakaiwa has dedicated his life to his family’s practice and passion — the art of hula. As a 15-year ‘olapa dancer of Hālau O Kekuhi, he has experienced all aspects of hula, oli, haku mele and choreography. These qualities are nurtured well within the family and the hālau. The past seven generations and beyond have been maintained within a traditional family lifestyle dedicated to hula and the Hawaiian culture.

Since he was a boy of 12, as an ‘olapa of Hālau O Kekuhi, Kaumakaiwa has been involved with the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. For a decade, he has appeared on stage and in film productions such as “Holo Mai Pele” by the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation and “Hālau O Kekuhi”; “Kamehameha Pai’ea”; “Kilohi: Nā Akua Wahine”; and “Hānau Ka Moku,” a collaboration with the Tau Dance Theatre.

In Spring 2003, Kaumakaiwa released his debut album, Ha’i Kupuna, which earned him his first Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Haku Mele category. This award — one that is revered by many in the Hawaiian community — is a prized honor and is rarely given to someone so young.

Kaumakaiwa’s second album, “Welo,” by no means a follow-up album or a sophomore release, was another verse to the greater mele, or song, with which he honors his kupuna. It garnered two Hōkū awards in 2006 for Hawaiian Language Performance and Hawaiian Album of the Year. Welo stands for Kaumakaiwa’s lineage as a contemporary native Hawaiian passing down ancestral memory to future generations.

His third album released in 2008 is an affirmation of Kaumakaiwa coming into his own as a world artist. In the recording, Kaumakaiwa sets the pace, raises the bar and pushes the standards. At the 2009 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, Kaumakaiwa was honored in the Hawaiian Language Performance category and named Male Vocalist of the Year.

Friday’s performance begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20 for members of the Center and $22 for non-members. They can be purchased at the Center’s Box Office, BriarPatch Co-op or online at

For more about Kaumakaiwa Kanaka ‘ole, go to

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