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Maui Now Exclusive: Grammy Nominee Kalani Peʻa

Wendy Osher · January 8, 2017, 10:26 AM HST (Updated January 11, 2017, 8:03 AM) · 9 Comments
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Kalani Peʻa. Photo Courtesy Of Vision Horse Media / Adam Palumo

Grammy nominated singer and songwriter, Kalani Peʻa shares with us his journey as he prepares for the biggest night in his musical career, the 59th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017.

He’s nominated in the “best regional roots music album” category for his debut album “E Walea,” which was released in August 2016.

Upon its release, the album hit number 1 on the iTunes world music charts, and on Aug. 15, 2016, it hit number 12 on the Billboard World Albums Charts.

Peʻa, a native of Panaʻewa on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, now lives on Maui.

He is a product of Ke Kula ‘o Nāwahīokalaniʻōpuʻu, the Hawaiian Language School in Keaʻau, Puna where he graduated in 2001.

“E Walea” features seven haku mele (Hawaiian original music compositions) and five of Peʻa’s favorite covers.

Kalani Peʻa. Photo Courtesy Of Vision Horse Media / Adam Palumo

The album was named after Peʻa’s eldest nephew, Kamali‘ikānekūikekaipu‘oluwaleaokalani Pe‘a-Whitney, but Peʻa says it’s about many others in his family as well.  “In Hawaiian we call it hoʻoilina, and that is part of the vision of our ancestors leaving a legacy–leaving something that pertains to their gift or talent.  For me,  I wanted to create an album that really describes who I am, and talks about my journey in Hawaiian language and perpetuating Hawaiian Language and culture,” said Peʻa.

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“Walea” means to be exuberant, to be elated, to be happy,” said Peʻa of the album titile.

Peʻa also paid tribute to his late grandmother in the song “Nani A Maikaʻi,” saying the mele describes beauty as being all around. “Somewhere over the valleys or the ocean there is beauty.  There is beauty somewhere, we just have to find it.  But from a Hawaiian perspective, from a kuana ike–which is a Hawaiian perspective or concept–there is beauty in everything,” said Peʻa.

Kalani Peʻa. E Walea cover.

Peʻa tells us his public singing began at age four when he was diagnosed with a speech impediment. When speech therapy didn’t work, his mother, Pua Leonard encouraged him to sing like others in his family including herself, his father, a jazz musician, and his grandfather, an opera singer.

Peʻa said he sang his first song, “I Feel My Savior’s Love,” in church, and went on from there to enter talent competitions throughout his youth.

Peʻa currently works as a Hawaiian resource coordinator at Kamehameha Schools on Maui.

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017 at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on the CBS Television Network from 8 to 11:30 p.m. ET/5-8:30 p.m. PT.

“E Walea” is the only Hawaiian music album in the category this year.  Other nominees include: Broken Promised Land by Barry Jean Ancelet & Sam Broussard; It’s A Cree Thing
by Northern Cree; Gulfstream by Roddie Romero And The Hub City All-Stars; and I Wanna Sing Right: Rediscovering Lomax In The Evangeline Country by Various Artists.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 15 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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