Grantee:  Lehua Kalima
Native Citizenship:  Native Hawaiian
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Award:  2015 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Music
Web Site:

Lehua Kalima grew up listening to traditional Hawaiian and Hapa-Haole (half Hawaiian/half English) music. And while her Hawaiian friends were learning to play the ukulele, she was learning to play both the ukulele and the piano under the influence of her Illinois-born mother.

Lehua Kalima’s music career had an early start. She and a couple of friends formed a band in high school and during their senior year won a competition with an original song titled, “Local Boys.” The song became a Hawaiian cult-hit, which propelled her into the music world. For more than thirty years now, she has been performing with her Billboard Top 20-listed band Na Leo Pilimehana, throughout which she has composed, arranged and recorded hundreds of songs. Na Leo Pilimehana has won more than twenty Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (the Hawaiian equivalent of a Grammy Awards) including three individual composer awards for Song of the Year.

In 2011, Lehua recorded a solo album and won a 2012 Hoku Award for Contemporary Album of the Year. This award-winning solo album entitled “Rising in Love” was composed entirely of original music and allowed her to express her contemporary side.

Lehua has learned Ōlelo Hawaiʻi (her native tongue) in order to compose songs in the language of her people and she is currently working on producing a Hawaiian song album. Lehua-Nani wants the album to be mostly original Hawaiian compositions written by her and other Native Hawaiian composers. The project is currently in the planning stages as she and her music partner are gathering songs and working on arrangements. Lehua’s goal is to record all the music and vocals in the Spring 2016.