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,
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.
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 mele.com.