|This story has been corrected. See below.|
Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole is a striking performer. With his thick, black hair and piercing eyes, his look is imposing, but his manner is welcoming. He’s still in his 20s, and not opposed to public silliness — he made an attention-getting run to the podium to accept his Na Hoku Hanohano award last year, wearing high heels — but an essential aspect of his persona is his deep reverence for Hawaiian culture.
He sings and is fluent in Hawaiian, with music drawn from the tradition of chant, yet his music isn’t exclusively channeled from the past. He’s an innovator who records only original music and says, "Sometimes, I don’t know what’s going to come out of my mouth."
‘LIVE FROM THE LAWN’
First Friday concert, featuring Big Island performers:
Where: Hawaii State Art Museum, 250 S. Hotel St.
When: 6 to 9 p.m.
Cost: Free; food and drink sold on site
Info: Tim Bostock Productions, 521-9699
Note: The art exhibits "Ho’oulu: The Inspiration of Hula" and "Hi’iakaikapoliopele: Visual Stories by Contemporary Native Hawaiian Artists" will be open for viewing.
His appeal was recognized when his most recent album, 2008’s self-titled "Kaumakaiwa," won awards for best male vocalist and Hawaiian language performance in 2009. "If what you’re putting forth is true, then it translates to the human experience," he says. "It achieves a certain synergy."
Kanakaole headlines the First Friday "Live From the Lawn" concert at the Hawaii State Art Museum today, as part of a lineup spotlighting Big Island performers. He’ll be on stage along with Wailau Ryder, Lorna Lim and Bo Lozoff, singing for people who might be distracted by their toddlers, or stopping just for a minute between galleries, or sitting on the grass to eat dinner — or captivated by his style.
He acknowledges the backyard-party atmosphere of the "Live From the Lawn" concerts, but says, "An audience is an audience. If the music is attractive, people will listen."
His singing voice is sweet, smooth and strong — a strength tied directly to his mastery of Hawaiian. And that mastery can be traced to his matrilineage, as the great-grandson of Edith Kanakaole, grandson of Pualani and son of Kekuhi — all women inextricably connected to Hawaiian song and hula, which for the young singer are joined as one.
"They both come from the same place," he says. "Had it not been for the hula tradition, then I would not have had the same source to draw on."
Kanakaole, who returns to the studio next month to work on a new album, is all about paying tribute to those who came before him.
"Music is essentially a public service," he says. "It’s not all about me."
FIRST FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS
Galleries, studios, clubs and restaurants are open throughout the Honolulu Arts District, with events from 5 to 10 p.m. For a gallery map and parking information, go to www.artsatmarks.com.
Arts at Marks, 1159 Nuuanu Ave.: Preview "Julius Caesar," with repeat vignettes throughout the evening. Segments of the cast, with up to 19 people, will run scenes from the play. The exhibit Raku Hoolaulea is also on display. 521-2903
BambuTwo Cafe, 1144 Bethel St.: "Natural Style," acrylic paintings on canvas by Honolulu artist Colleen Wilcox, inspired by surfing, swimming and observing nature. 528-1144.
Bethel Street Gallery, 1140 Bethel St.: group show, "All You Can Eat!" 524-3552, www.bethel streetgallery.com
etown, 1164 Smith St.: "Vol del Futur," a collaborative effort juxtaposing Aerin Vanhala’s landscapes and Barcelona photographer Emili Callen’s travel photography from Southeast Asia and Australia. Also featuring Meesah jewelry, sailbags by Soozou and hand-painted bikinis by 1979. 225-2727
Louis Pohl Gallery, 1111 Nuuanu Ave.: "Cathartic." Art by former staffers at the shuttered Honolulu Advertiser: Wanda Adams, Rebecca Breyer, Kathy Chang, Bev Creamer, Gail DeLeon, Joseph Guinto, Martha Hernandez, Elizabeth House, Minette McCabe, Mark Milligan, Chris Oliver, Paula Rath, Greg Taylor and Mike Wiley. 521-1812, www.louis pohlgallery.com
Mendonca Building Courtyard, 1126 Smith St.: Sandy Sawin’s canvas work and glassware, Osvaldo Flores’ photography, Jules Schaper’s batik-like paintings on rice paper, Kenji Croman’s photography, John Johnson’s underwater photography. 262-5930
Peggy Chun Gallery, 1161 Nuuanu Ave.: "then &now," two- and three- dimensional art by local artist JKS. 545-4810
Pegge Hopper Gallery, 1164 Nuuanu Ave.: Works by Pegge Hopper. 524-1160
thirtyninehotel, 39 N. Hotel St., second floor: "Stay Sweet," a site- specific mixed-media installation by Kirsten Rae Simonsen. 599-2552, www.thirtyninehotel.com
The Venue, 1146 Bethel St.: DJ Vegas Mike spins ’80s classics; free before 10 p.m., $5 after. 528-1144
July 6, 2010
» Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole’s 2008 album, "Kaumakaiwa," won two Na Hoku Hanohano awards in 2009. A July 2 article on Page 15 of TGIF misstated the date of the awards ceremony. The online edition has been corrected.