The Na Hoku Hanohano multi-award-winning female vocal group, Na Leo Pilimehana, will be performing at the Kahilu Theatre on September 22 at 7 pm. This year marks their 34th anniversary, and over that span they’ve released 24 CDs, won 22 Hoku Awards, and have been in the Top 20 American Country charts. In May, they released Beautiful Day, an inspiring and uplifting album with songs aimed to empower its listeners.
Singer Nalani Jenkins, who manages Na Leo Pilimehana’s record label (NLP Productions) and concert tours, explains how the recent recording came together. “We were feeling energetic and starting to write. We worked with a new producer, Dave T., on this, and I think all of our creative energies generated a great new CD. The three of us individually wrote songs on this release. ‘Beautiful Day’ is a song I wrote, and I think it summarized the feeling that the group was in a good place in our lives.”
Na Leo Pilimehana consists of three childhood friends, Nalani Jenkins, Lehua Kalima, and Angela Morales. Discouraged with the ups and downs of the music scene, they decided to get on with college, jobs and marriage, and took a break for seven years. However, they missed singing together, writing songs, and the joy of performing. “First of all, we were friends before we were a group,” explains Jenkins about the group’s long-lasting endurance. “So that means that over the years there were times when it was just a hobby for us, and times when it was our livelihood. We always put our friendship and families first. None of us tried to be the superstar or overshadow each other – not a lot of egos going on here.”
Na Leo Pilimehana started their own record label, and then signed with Sony Music Japan in 1996. The group continues to perform for sold-out crowds in Japan, across the States, and has a special September show lined up for concertgoers at the Kahilu Theatre. “Fans can expect to hear some new music as well as our classics,” said Jenkins. “We’ll also perform some material that people don’t hear all the time on the radio. We have lots of radio hits, but we always like to feature a few hidden gems from our archives.”
Besides the great music, Na Leo Pilimehana’s Kahilu show will also feature Lehua Kalima’s sister, Iwalani Kalima, performing Hula. She’s the Kumu Hula of Hula Hālau O Kou Lima Nani ‘E, a Hula school on the east side of the Big island. Iwalani studied under renowned hula master George Lanakilakeikiahiali’i Na’ope for over 36 years. Na Leo’s band features Aron Nelson (keyboards), Shawn Pimental (acoustic guitar), Bryan Kessler (electric guitar), Rod Esteban (drums), and Arex Ikehara (bass).
Na Leo Pilimehana is currently in the planning stages of doing a series of 2018 Christmas shows here in Hawaii in coordination with Olympic Gold Medalist Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation. “We’re going to do a private show for her foundation here [in Hawaii], and a series of shows for the public.”
If You Go
Tickets for their Kahilu Theatre debut on September 22 are $68/$48/$28 and can be purchased at kahilutheatre.org, by phone (808) 885-6868, or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela.
To find out more about Na Leo’s new release, Beautiful Day, please visit their website: http://www.naleopilimehana.com/beautiful-day-2018.html