Freestyle: Mana Maoli brings the noise
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / firstname.lastname@example.org
Ready for another exciting week of life and art in Honolulu? There’s a lot happening on Oahu.
If you read my blog last week, you know Pow Wow Hawaii is going strong. Check out the art all around Kakaako and at Loft in Space. And then there’s “Mardi Gras Carnaval” in Chinatown on Tuesday, Feb. 12 with Brazilian dancing, New Orleans music, local bands, food and a masked ball at theVenue. (The street fest for Mardi Gras is free. Get advance tickets for the Mardi Gras club crawl and ball here.)
Mana Maoli Kanipila
» Where: Fresh Cafe/Loft in Space, 831 Queen St.
When events combine respect for our local community and the highest standards for performance, I’m happy to recommend them. There’s much to look forward to.
My pick for the weeks ahead is coming to you from Mana Maoli, a non-profit organization with an admirable history in Hawaii, established in 1999 to support a Hawaiian charter school, sea-going education and — here’s where everyone benefits — musical opportunity. Mana Maoli takes a holistic view of education, taking students out into the environment and bringing cultural practitioners, including musicians, into the schools and other gatherings where youth are included.
On Friday, Feb. 22, Mana Maoli will present its annual musical event, but this year there’s an intriguing grassroots element: It will be a “freestyle”(!) jam session featuring some of Hawaii’s best local musicians alongside charter school youth.
Amy Hanaialii Gilliom, John Cruz, Anuhea, Paula Fuga, Irie Love, Liko Martin, Taimane, Pomaika’i Lyman (granddaughter of Genoa Keawe), Kaipo Kapua, Jah Maoli, Mike Love, Mama T, Candy Diaz, Seph1, members of Rebel Souljahz and many others are signed on to participate.
Music has always been an essential piece of the Mana Maoli offering. And prominent musicians in Hawaii have responded with support throughout the years, including John Cruz, Paula Fuga and Jack Johnson (who contributed to recording projects).
Last year, Mana Maoli produced a concert featuring Paula Fuga and Jamaican artist Tarrus Riley at Kakaako Waterfront Park Amphitheatre.
This year, the goals and production are closer to home.
Kapalihiwa Bilyeu, a student at Windward Community College — and the daughter of Malani Bilyeu, founding member of Kalapana — sent us the notice on behalf of Mana Maoli, calling it “an inspiring and VERY unique event … far from your typical benefit concert!” The event is co-produced by Halau Ku Mana charter school student Nohealani Miller for her senior project, former Kanuikapono charter school student Bilyeu and Mana Maoli.
Mana Maoli describes the event as a showcase for youthful talent, providing young musicians with the opportunity to perform with seasoned artists. Proceeds will be used to support the musical program for charter school students.
The event is also meant, as always, to draw attention to Mana Maoli’s charter school program. Organizer Keola Nakanishi says charter schools are under severe pressure because, while they’re supported by public funding, their budgets don’t match what’s provided to established public schools.
“Music supports our visibility,” he said.
If the money can be obtained, Mana Maoli hopes to assemble a mobile studio that can be staffed by students and musical mentors, generating fees for recording services, Nakanishi said.
If you plan to attend, put your donation (minimum $10, $5 for youth) aside, as there are no individual advance ticket sales. For a $20 donation in advance, Mana Maoli will save three people a seat.
Those who donate $20 will be gifted a Mana Maoli double CD, including 38 tracks involving more than 100 professional artists, with the proceeds from CD sales support of 13 charter schools in Hawaii.
VIP donors who contribute $50 or more will be treated to pupus, prime seats and a meet-and-greet with artists.
Our ‘Maoli Music’ program is primarily volunteer-driven,” Bilyeu noted. “At the core of this program is the Mana Maoli Collective, which refers to hundreds of pro, underground and youth artists who donate their time and talent to Mana Maoli CDs, concerts, school visits, music mentorships and after-school programs, all in support of over a dozen culture, community and environment-based charter schools in Hawaii.
“Attendees young and old will enjoy seeing pro and youth artists of various musical backgrounds, jamming together — freestyle,” said Bilyeu.
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter.