Last Saturday, Kalani Peʻa delivered another memorable vocal performance with stories, laughter, and insight for his debut Kahilu TV appearance and first concert of the year.
“This is an important time and a time to reflect what is important in our lives: family, health, and aloha,” announced singer Kalani Peʻa at the start. The heartfelt statement set the tone for the next sixty-five minutes.
In between songs, Peʻa spoke about supporting the arts and musicians, like himself, whose livelihood came to an abrupt halt due to the pandemic. The Grammy and Hoku winner told the Maui Times last year, “I have been getting grants and support for my music endeavors and help to pay my bills since I lost every show/tour this year, immediately after my sold-out Lincoln Center concert on Feb. 27.”
While the setback has been devastating, Peʻa ’s creativity is still alive. Last month he released a new music video and single of “O Holy Night” featuring local singer and songwriter Damon Williams. (You can download it here.) The singer also has a successful single in Japan called “I Love You (E Pili Mau).” And, if that wasn’t enough, he’s putting the finishing touches on his third album which is due to drop April 22.
It’s been almost a year since Kalani performed his unforgettable Valentine’s Day concert at the Kahilu Theatre. Sans the audience, he brought his favorite hula dancers and most of his band. The band’s drummer unfortunately wasn’t able to travel to the Big Island. Despite the setback, it was still a magnificent show.
The livestream opened with an oli (spoken chant) by guitarist Aiau Koa and followed with one by Peʻa, delivered off stage. When he made his dramatic entrance, he didn’t disappoint. From head to toe, his favorite color purple was the dominant theme: a purple cap, a black jacket with purple floral patterns, and stylish violet-colored shoes. Oh, and a purple mask encrusted with shiny sequins. Behind the singers was a beautiful floral display embellished with bird of paradise flowers.
Accompanying him for the concert, Peʻa was joined on stage by a three-piece band featuring Aiau Koa (guitar), Wailau Ryder (bass), and Nalei Pokipala (back-up vocals). Peʻa brought out the talented hula dancers Namakana Lim Caravalho, Kaea Lyons, and Kaea Lyons Jr. for several numbers.
The singer acknowledged his humble Big Island roots growing up on a guava farm outside of Hilo. Pe‘a started singing when he was four, with encouragement from his parents, who believed it would help him overcome a stuttering problem. “When a speech therapist didn’t work,” Pe‘a recalled, “my mom tried music and it saved my life!” He also acknowledged that a music curriculum program assists his grandmother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. “Music is so essential, and I believe that if we have more music education programs in the system, more people will value arts and entertainment,” Pe‘a told the viewers at home.
After several Hawaiian songs, Pe‘a returned to his first love, R&B, and soul classics. Fondly reminiscing his talent show days as a kid, dressed in a cheap oversized suit from Men’s Warehouse, Pe‘a launched into a pair of songs made popular by Heatwave and The Carpenters.
I’d be remiss in this review if I didn’t include Pe‘a’s parting words, “During these rough and troubling times, may we find music in our hearts, and when we find it, we can show compassion to others. That it is the true meaning of aloha.”
After the show, Pe‘a and I did a live post-concert interview which ran about 15 minutes. The Kahilu Theatre is launching a Kahilu TV app this week, and it should make the viewing experience easier for those who’ve signed up for a subscription or pay-per-view shows. You can find lots of free content on the app too.
Notes & Links
Musicians: Aiau Koa (guitar), Wailau Ryder (bass), and Nalei Pokipala (back-up vocals).
Hula dancers: Namakana Lim Caravalho, Kaea Lyons, and Kaea Lyons Jr.
Kalani Peʻa Setlist (65 minutes) Oli- Aiau Koa | Oli- Nālei Pokipala | Oli- Kalani Peʻa | Hilo March- Prelude | He Lei Aloha no Hilo | No ʻAneʻi | Noho Paipai | He Wehi Aloha | Superstar | Always and Forever | Paʻa Mau | Ke ʻAʻa O Nā Lani | Kuʻu Poliʻahu | E Nā Kini | Maluaka- (Hana Hou) |
Event date: 09/JAN/2021
To catch a show and stay up to date with the Kahilu Theatre’s new online platform Kahilu TV and Kalani Peʻa, click on the links below.
About the author: Steve Roby is a music journalist, an L.A. Times bestselling author, and a Big Island filmmaker. He’s been featured in The NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: Steve Roby