Maui Arts & Entertainment

Breaking: Kalani Peʻa wins third Grammy!

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By Wendy Osher and Gary Kubota

Maui’s Kalani Peʻa earned a 2022 GRAMMY for his junior album, “Kau Ka Peʻa,” which was considered in the Best Regional Roots Music Album category.  This is his third GRAMMY, with each of his albums to date earning him honors.

  • Peʻa’s jacket was designed by Kini Zamora with detail regalia by Maui Divers Jewelry, in honor of King David Kalākaua. PC: Kalani Peʻa Music / Instagram
  • Peʻa’s jacket was designed by Kini Zamora with detail regalia by Maui Divers Jewelry, in honor of King David Kalākaua. PC: Kalani Peʻa Music / Instagram
  • Peʻa’s jacket was designed by Kini Zamora with detail regalia by Maui Divers Jewelry, in honor of King David Kalākaua. PC: Kalani Peʻa Music / Instagram
  • Peʻa’s jacket was designed by Kini Zamora with detail regalia by Maui Divers Jewelry, in honor of King David Kalākaua.

In accepting the award, he said, “He Hawaiʻi au, mau a mau,” meaning, “I am forever Hawaiian.” He continued saying, “I am a proud innovative Hawaiian, a modern Hawaiian, and I wear this coat to honor King David Kalākaua who revitalized and perpetuated hula and Hawaiian language, and brought that back to us since that was banned in our culture. He traveled the world building relationships, collaborations with emperors, kings and queens all over the world,” said Peʻa, who accepted the honors in a coat designed by Kini Zamora and regalia decor by Maui Divers Jewelry, inspired by Kalākaua’s coronation attire. “Collaboration is the key to success. That’s why us creators are here to collaborate and thrive together,” he said noting that he was overwhelmed with joy.

Peʻa also credited all of the people who contributed to the album including Dave Tucciarone, Hoʻokena, The Pandanus Club, Kimié Miner and Haku Collective, Kalena Ku, Imua Garza, and Uncle Aiau Koa, who was Peʻa’s guitarist for six years. “This is for you Uncle Aiau,” said Peʻa, who reflected upon Koa’s passing.

“I mahalo my beautiful mama… she’s 60 and single and she gave birth to this big boy!” said Peʻa who also thanked his husband Allan Cool. “We own our our music. Every artist should own their music and thrive.”

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He also offered some words of advice saying, “Whatever color of the rainbow, be authentic, be real, be you, be true to yourself… and guess what? This pandemic didn’t stop us from creating music for the world to hear, and the world to heal. I love you. Aloha.”

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In explaining the choice of title, Peʻa tells the Recording Academy, “Kau is to be placed or to hoist. Peʻa is my last name, which means the sailboat or the sail of the boat. The theme of the album is to hoist your sail, create your own sailboat and voyage; navigate the world.”

Peʻa also appeared this year as part of the opening number at the 64th GRAMMY Premiere Ceremony, held at the MGM Grand Conference Marquee Ballroom in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 3, 2022. Today’s special opening multi-nominee performance, also included Madison Cunningham, Falu, Nnenna Freelon, John Popper, and The Isaacs.

He entered the stage singing:

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“E walea no. E nanea no. He Hawaiʻi au. He aloha mai. He aloha mai,” loosely translated as: “I invite you to relax…enjoy. I am Hawaiian. Love. Love to all.”

E Walea,” which means to be exuberant, to be elated, to be happy, was the name of his debut album, which won a 2017 GRAMMY. With that album, the Hilo native and now Maui resident, became the first Hawaiian recording artist to ever win a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award and a Grammy Award for the same album.

Peʻa picked up his second GRAMMY award in 2019, for his sophomore album, “No ʻAneʻi,” which he said means, “‘We belong here.’ Everyone in this room has a gift and talent. We are profound and prominent resources for the communities we serve.” 

“All Hawaiʻi is proud of Kalani Peʻa’s performance and his win for American Roots for Hawaiʻi Nei and all the American Roots nominees,” said multiple Grammy and Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winner, George Kahumoku of Maui.  

George Kahumoku, Sonny Lim and Jeff Peterson have 12 nominations and eight Grammy wins between them, according to Kahumoku.   Back when Hawaiian music had its own category, five of the seven awards between 2005 and 2011 went to Slack Key Guitar compilations.  

“Hanohano o Kalani Peʻa! We are proud that Kalani represents all of Hawaiʻi,” said Kahumoku.

Peʻa was the only artist from Hawaiʻi among the five nominees in this year’s Best Regional Roots Music Album category. Louisiana was represented in the other four nominees with Cajun and Zydeco music. Others include: “Live In New Orleans!” by Sean Ardoin And Kreole Rock And Soul; “Bloodstains & Teardrops” by Big Chief Monk Boudreaux; “My People” by Cha Wa; and “Corey Ledet Zydeco” by Corey Ledet Zydeco.

Kalani Peʻa – Hanalei I Ka Pilimoe – Live / file Kalani Peʻa YouTube
The 64th GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony streams live from Las Vegas on Sun, April 3, 2022, at (3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. PT)(9:30 a.m. HST) on YouTube at Recording Academy / GRAMMYs and on live.grammy.com.

The 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be broadcast on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on-demand on Paramount+and Paramount+ from 8–11:30 p.m. ET/5–8:30 p.m. PT (2-5:30 p.m. HST). Check local listings for Hawaiʻi air times.


For a weekly listing of Maui music and other events, go to Maui Entertainment, Arts, Community, March 31-April 6 and click here.

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