By Vanessa Wolf
This Friday, see an up close and personal side of Keali‘i Reichel, Hawaii’s award-winning kumu hula, chanter and world-renowned recording artist.
Carleton Lewis Kealiʻinaniaimokuokalani Reichel was born and raised here on Maui. He grew up in Lahaina and attended Lahainaluna High School, but spent the weekends and summers with his grandparents in Paia.
In a December 2010 interview with Bret Love, Reichel stated, “I grew up on two sides of the island. My parents lived on the west side and I went to school there, while my grandparents lived on the north shore, about 90 minutes away. I’d spend weekends, summers and holidays on that side of the island with them. My fondest memories are probably my summers with my grandparents, because they lived right on the beach, so I was swimming, surfing and fishing every day, often from morning until night.”
Since his twenties, Reichel has been devoted to the study – and ultimately the promotion – of Hawaiian culture. Here on Maui, he was one of the founders of Punana Leo O Maui, a Hawaiian language immersion school and Halau Ke’alaokamaile, a hula school.
As a singer, Reichel has traveled the world. He received a Grammy nomination and his 1997 album, Kawaipunahele , was the first-ever certified gold record for a predominantly Hawaiian language album.
In the same interview with Love, Reichel discussed the origins and current state of hula.
“The modern thought about hula is that it tells a story, but it really doesn’t. It’s one of the few dances in the world in which you have to have the words of the text in order for the dance to exist. Without words, you really can’t tell what the dancers are saying. As our people became less fluent in their own language over the years, the hula became more about gestures, and the shift of the focus went away from the poetry of the particular or song or chant, and went onto the movement of the dancers.”
Reichel’s songs mix Hawaiian language chanting (mele) and singing in both Hawaiian and English and often include audience interaction. The show is at 7:30 p.m. at the McCoy Studio Theater. Tickets are $35 or $65 for VIP seating.
Are you a local artist – sculptor, poet, mime, slack key guitar player, tattoo artist, photographer, pastry chef, performance artist, sand castle builder or comedian – with an interesting story to tell? Know of a great band, artist, author, filmmaker, or event coming to town? Have an idea for a fun or thought-provoking story? Get in touch: we want to hear from you. Vanessa (@mauinow.com)