Hawaiian Native

GRANTEE:  Kalalea
NATIVE HERITAGE:  Hawaiian Native
LOCATION:  Anahola, HI
AWARD:  2021 LIFT – Early Career Support for Native Artists
SOCIAL MEDIA:  Instagram

Kalalea is a Kauai Native with a family genealogy connecting back to Kauai Chiefs. He is an active contributor to Native education and community renewal. He grew up in the heart of the Native Hawaiian education movement and is considered a first-generation Hawaiian immersion student and charter school graduate. He is a cultural practitioner, musician, and youth mentor/instructor. Kalalea has several years of experience working with at-risk youth with music as the focus at a Hawaiian-focused charter school. He has served as an instructor of music composition, guitar, performance, hula, creative writing, and basic film.

With roots in island reggae that branch out to modern R&B and hip hop, Kalalea has no shortage of variety when it comes to his music. He learned ukulele at age five, picked up a guitar before high school, then slowly taught himself how to play other instruments. His music is written, mixed, and mastered on his own, and he has been writing music since he was twelve. Still only in his twenties, his music has already taken him internationally and he has done extensive work with the Mana Maoli Collective, collaborating with many artists in Hawaii.


Kalalea’s LIFT project involves mentorship in the creation of original music for an EP and a short-story film that gives voice to the struggle of the Native Hawaiian community. He will mentor twelve high-school students for the original music and eight students for the short-story film, while creating his own work. The local and virtual community will be invited to a live performance headlining Kalalea, guest artists, and youth artists. The Short Story Music Video will be presented on a huge outdoor screen as part of the music performance.


Music embraces the emotion that our stories evoke and it stirs our pain and paves the way for healing, inspiration, love, and light.

—Kalalea (Hawaiian Native)

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