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Island mele-Kanaka'ole keeping traditions alive

by Sophie Georgiou, staff writer


Kaumakaiwa “Lopaka” Kanaka‘ole, successfully continues his ‘ohana (family) traditions in his first album for Hula Records, Ha‘i Kupuna. He is the son, grandson, and great-grandson of talented singing award winners, who expands on the Kanaka‘ole traditions, values, and singing talent.


Hula Records released Lopaka’s first album in April 2003, and a year later, the album was chosen as the 2004 winner of the popular Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

It is not the family’s first Na Hoku Hanohano award. In 1980, two years after the awards were established, Edith Kanaka‘ole, Lopaka’s great-grandmother, won the award for her popular mele (musical poem) “Ke One Kaulana O Hawai‘i.”

Lopaka’s album features two of Edith’s popular mele, including the winning one, as a sign of respect to his ‘ohana for raising him to be a passionate and educated Hawaiian, as he writes on his CD cover.

Evidence of the importance of ‘ohana is the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation, which was established in 1990 as a memorial to the works, ideals, and philosophy of the late Luka Kanaka‘ole and Edith Kekuhi Kanaele Kanaka‘ole, to heighten indigenous Hawaiian cultural awareness. All family members, including Lopaka, are active members of the foundation. Lopaka supports it by participating at foundation-sponsored events where he sings and performs as a hula dancer.

Lopaka’s music offers a fresh new sound for Hawai‘i. It not only includes the traditional Hawaiian mele, but it also features more contemporary Hawaiian melodies. Lopaka’s vocal abilities are magnificent, which is no surprise, since he started to chant when he was three years old.

Stelios Koukos, an HPU student from Cyprus majoring in marine science, said: “It’s a mixture of Latin guitar with colorful Hawaiian vocals,” after listening to I`iwi Leo Kolonahe, track four.

Ha‘i Kupuna was initially sold only at the Merrie Monarch festival, but it can now be purchased at local record stores and at various Web sites such as



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