Less than a week removed from his surprising victory at the 59th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles with his debut album, “E Walea,” Wailuku resident Kalani Pe‘a will make his first Oahu appearance as a Grammy-winning artist when he headlines Kona Nui Nights at Ward Village’s IBM Courtyard, 1240 Ala Moana Blvd., on Feb. 15.
Pe‘a is the first Native Hawaiian recording artist ever to win the Grammy for Best Regional Roots Album since the category debuted in 2011. Previous winners have all been albums by Louisiana-based Cajun or zydeco artists; this year, Pe‘a beat out projects by Canada-based Native American group Northern Cee and Louisiana’s Barry Jean Ancelet & Sam Broussard, Roddie Romero and The Hub City All-Stars and compilation album “I Wanna Sing Right: Rediscovering Lomax in the Evangeline County,” produced by Joshua Caffery and Joel Savoy.
“I cry each day with joy and knowing that there’s people I have impacted with my mele and with my charisma and with my style,” Pe’a said in an interview published in last weekend’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser Sunday Magazine. “Singing is what I love to do. Singing makes me happy. I’m just so blessed.”
After graduating from Hawaiian immersion school Kula ‘o Nawahiokalani‘opu‘u in Keaau on Hawaii island in 2001, Pe‘a received a degree in mass communications from Colorado Mesa University. He moved back to Hawaii in 2009 after working at a mainland television station and, along with his budding music career, is currently employed as a teacher and curriculum specialist with Kamehameha Schools Maui.
Kona Nui Nights spotlights Hawaiian music and culture every third Wednesday of the month in Kakaako from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free with ticket; visit wardvillage.com/events to RSVP. Free self-parking is available at Ward Village Shops or Ward Centre; valet parking is also available for $7 at Ward Centre. Call 591-8411 for more information.