Grantee: Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole
Native Citizenship: Native Hawaiian
Location: Hilo, Hawaii
Award: 2015 Native Hawaiian Artist Fellowship
Web Site: www.pasifika-artists.com/index.php?page=kaumakaiwa-kanakaole
Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole will compose original music and choreograph new bodies of work ready to tour in 2016 with the support of an NACF Fellowship.
Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole is a global touring and recording artist whose genre-crossing work strives to “prompt the Native into action and engage our psyche.” Her music has been honored with five Nā Hōkū Hanohano music awards and presented in eight international tours. “My work draws directly from ancestral memory and hula practice, with roots in chant that transforms to melody. It is not simply Western song with Hawaiian lyrics,” said the singer.
Grounded in the traditions of hula and ha’a, an energetic style of martial dance and kahiko or ancient hula, the singer composes mele oli, or chant verses, and choreographs performances for Hālau O Kekuhi. Kanaka’ole has served as a cultural consultant and creative contributor on three documentary films. In 2014, she inherited the role of kumu hula, or master teacher of the hālau alongside her grandaunt and aunt.
Support from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation will allow Kanaka’ole to create a series of hula and ha’a presentations based on the rituals of the goddess Pele tradition from the Malaeha’aho’a text. During her fellowship year, she will choreograph, collaborate, compose new chant verses and stage presentations with her family to create bodies of work ready to tour in 2016.
“It is the vision of our matriarch that we revolutionize the performance and secular aspect of hula for the greater public to witness at the annual Merrie Monarch inaugural kipaepae at the opening night of the festival,” said Kanaka’ole. “Composing is an ongoing process for me. It is our plan to include a musical segment into the performances we plan for hālau touring, with original songs as well as songs that are significant in my family.”