Island Mele: Song reminds listeners Japan still in need

Apr. 15, 2011 | 1 Comment In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition

Henry Kapono is a principal composer of "Together Hawai'i:ASong for Japan" along with Amy Hanaiali'i (not shown). —Courtesy Photo

‘Together Hawai’i: A Song for Japan’

Various artists

In 1984 Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats heard that people were starving in Africa. He responded to the humanitarian crisis by writing a song and then inviting the biggest English and Irish pop stars of the day to join him in recording it for charity. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was an instant No. 1 hit in the UK, and Geldof was so serious about the charitable purpose of the project that he even got the British government to donate the tax that would normally have been levied on each record sold.

The American music industry followed suit a few months later with its own “help Africa” superstar recording: “We Are the World,” recorded by the all-star choral group USA for Africa. Record sales and related USAfor Africa marketing reportedly raised more than $60 million.

Amy Hanaiali'i. —Courtesy Photo

A month or two after “We Are the World,” Hawaii got on board with its version of the superstar charity project, “The Way of Love,” recorded by a group using the name Hawaii for Africa. For some of the participants, “The Way of Love” was a publicity op, but for the song’s primary composer, Henry Kapono Ka’aihue, it was about helping relief efforts for people less fortunate the best way he knew how.

Jump forward a quarter-century and Kapono is a principal player in another celebrity fundraiser-for-charity project, the self-explanatory “Together Hawai’i:ASong for Japan.”

Kapono and Amy Hanaiali’i Gilliom share the composer’s credit for the anthem of faith, hope and unity from one island nation to another. The two composers are joined by Raiatea Helm, Robi Kahakalau, Danny Kennedy, Mailani Makainai, Manoa DNA, Chino Montero, Sean Na’auao and Kapono’s cousin Hilo Ka’aihue. Steve Jones (bass) and Shawn Pimental (drums) join guitarists Kapono and Montero in providing instrumental support, and celebrity slam poet Kealoha adds a spoken-word message in English for the people of Japan.

It’s a fine gesture, an inspiring song and a reminder that although the earthquake and tsunami occurred more than a month ago, the humanitarian crisis in northern Japan is far from over.

All things considered, this is the obvious front-runner for the Single of the Year at the 2012 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. Maybe Song of the Year as well.

“Together Hawai’i: A Song for Japan” is available as a download for 99 cents at A “making of the song” video is in production and will be available for $1.99. All proceeds will be donated to the Hawaii Red Cross, Japanese Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund.

» “Together Hawaii”

—John Berger /

  • Bavk

    I already downloaded the song after hearing about it Sunday. It’s wonderful! I can’t wait for the video version/making of to come out!