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.”
She will perform 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bucknell University’s Weis Center.
Her music has been honored with five Nā Hōkū Hanohano (Hawaiian “Grammy”) 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, who has three solo CDs to her name.
She is the great grandchild of Edith Kanaka’ole, who was one of the seminal figures of the Hawaiian Renaissance which helped bring Hawaiian culture back into the central life of the Islands.
Since birth, Kaumakaiwa has dedicated her life to her illustrious family’s practice and passion — hula (Hālau O Kekuhi) and Hawaiian culture.
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.
A modern transgender Hawaiian (mahu wahine), she is a keeper of culture, an innovator and considered fun, as she engages indigenous thought to address today’s issues through music, chant and sharing of spirit. With plenty of humor, she provides commentary and stories to give context to her songs. Award-winning musician and producer Shawn Pimental accompanies on guitar and backup vocals.