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About the Artists

Kekuhi and Kaumakaiwa are products of of two very prominent family histories.

The first is the highly visual and transformational Kanakaʻole family whose primary traditional Hawaiian practice directly links them to the Pele, volcanic creation of the islands.  The Kanakaʻole family hula or dance traditions are internationally known for their inherited dance and chant style that honors the creative energies of the volcano.  This dance style is maintained by the active dance traditions of Halau O Kekuhi.

Photo: All rights reserved. Copyright 2013 Kealiikanakaole

Kekuhi and Kaumakaiwa are granddaughter and great-grandchild, respectively, of Edith Kanaka‘ole, who was one of the leaders of the Hawaiian “renaissance” of the 60s and 70s that brought hula, Hawaiian art and culture, and Hawaiian language back into the active life of the islands; and daughter and grandchild of Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, kumu hula (hula master) and cultural leader and educator. With this hula connection at the core of their cultural knowledge, the Kanakaʻole family has demonstrated a long history of preserving tradition, teaching, and expanding cultural expression through authentic innovation of dance, ritual, chant and Hawaii Traditional Ecological Knowledge.  The Kanakaʻole Family continue their work through Halau O Kekuhi and the Edith Kanakaole Foundation, a non-profit, family operated organization dedicated to heightening the consciousness and practice of Hawaiian culture in Hawaii and beyond.  In addition to carrying on the work of their Kanakaʻole family via their own creative pursuits, Kekuhi & Kaumakaiwa continue to contribute to and learn from the vast knowledge well of the Kanakaʻole family.

The second noteworthy and less known family history that feeds the mother-daughter duo is the Kaniʻaulono family genealogy.  The Kaniʻaulono connection directly links both Kekuhi & Kaumakaiwa not only to an outstanding spiritual and social leadership heritage, but also links them to the primal phenomenon of the beginning of the Hawaii universe, the creation of stars, sky, land, and one of the progenitors of the Hawaiian race, Haloa or the taro.  This connection plays significantly in Kekuhi & Kaumakaiwaʻs artistic, intellectual and spiritual lives.  Outstanding Hawaiian educators like Clinton Kanahele, and Hawaiian cultural authors and leaders, George S. Kanahele, and Edward Kanahele come from this heritage.  Agnes Kaleikini Huʻeu Sanford Kanahele passed on her legacy of the pahu dances (a permanent piece of the Halau O Kekuhi repertoire) to Pualani Kanahele Kanakaʻole.

They grew up on the slopes of the volcano Mauna A Wakea and Mauna Loa, and in the daily influence of Kilauea, regarded as a family ancestor. Fluent in Hawaiian as well as English, surrounded by Hawaiian music and all types of Western music, educated in Hawaiian tradition and earning advanced degrees in Western universities, they define what it means to be indigenous intellectuals in a contemporary world.

Kekuhi & Kaumakaiwaʻs shared intellectual, educational, performance, chant, ritual, innovation, dance, and inherent ties to their Hawaii and global consciousness comes through in their music, in their being. Their shared and individual consciousness, however, is not limited by who and what they have come from, for they are an amazing manifestation of what they would refer to as the kini akua, the 40,000 breaths of the Hawaii natural universe.

Their vision is to engage indigenous thought and body of knowledge to address today’s issues and challenges through, music, chant, and sharing of the spirit.