Despite the stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic, 22 Hawaii recording industry professionals still came together to work on a music video, which honors the graduates of 107 public, private and charter schools across Hawaii. Winners of multiple Hoku Awards Lehua Kalima and Shawn Pimental envisioned it as a way they could make this year’s graduation something special for the thousands of graduating seniors who’d been forced to forgo a traditional Hawaii-style graduation ceremony.
“There will be no gatherings with classmates and teachers to celebrate their accomplishments, no photos of them smiling with leis up to their foreheads surrounded by their friends and families,” Kalima wrote to other island recording artists while she, Pimental and music industry veteran Michael Grande were planning the project.
Kalima, Pimental and Grande decided to combine two graduation season favorites: “Goodtimes Together,” written by Cecilio Rodriguez, was a huge island hit for Cecilio & Kapono in 1988, and “Friends,” written by Christian music artist Michael W. Smith, which was popularized in Hawaii by Na Leo Pilimehana with similar success in 1994. Pimental and Grande created the music for their new medley. The other participants then recorded their contributions at home or while otherwise observing responsible social distancing across Hawaii.
Kalima’s Na Leo partners, Nalani Jenkins and Angela Morales, brought their voices to the project along with Kala‘e Camarillo, Kamaka Camarillo, Kalenaku DeLima, Amy Hanaiali‘i Gilliom, Napua Greig, Kainani Kahaunaele, Kawika Kahiapo, Josh Kahula, Henry Kapono, Pomaika‘i Keawe- Lyman, Kimie Miner, Sean Na‘auao, Kala‘e Parish, Josh Tatofi, Ana Vee, Mark Yamanaka and the duo of Del and Kapua Beazley.
The official title is “A Musical Tribute to Hawai‘i’s Class of 2020.”
The performances are uniformly beautiful, there’s a special message at the end for graduates fluent in Hawaiian, and it is wonderful to see so many friends having a good time together honoring the high school graduates of the Class of 2020.
Keli‘i Grace of KSG Films did the video production. The Hawai‘i Community Foundation and Rick Blangiardi underwrote the production costs.