Maui News

Raiatea Helm Awarded $20,000 Music Fellowship

January 2, 2012, 9:26 AM HST
* Updated January 2, 9:28 AM
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Raiatea Helm. Courtesy photo.

Posted By Wendy Osher

Hawaii songstress, Raiatea Helm was awarded a $20,000 music fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

The NACF grant was part of the foundation’s recent awards to 28 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and organizations in 15 states.

This year’s recipients include one Native Hawaiian artist and five Native Hawaiian arts and cultural organizations. The Native Hawaiian grant recipients include: musician Raiatea Helm, Honolulu; Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus, Honolulu; Kahilu Theatre Foundation, Kamuela; Hula Preservation Society, Kaneohe; Kuleana ‘Oiwi Press, Honolulu; and Pa’i Foundation, Honolulu.

Born into a musically talented family, Helm earned the 2011 Artist Fellowship for her focused artistic vision, vocal range and clarity.  Authorities at NACF said the 26-year-old musician has a “rhythmic giftedness of a musician much her senior.”


Helm began dancing hula at the age of three, and through hula, she developed a deep respect and appreciation for the Hawaiian language and art of interpreting a mele through its cadenced movements.


Helm has been playing professionally for more than 10 years and has already received two Grammy Awards nominations (2008, and 2006).  In Hawaii, she is a two-time winner of Female Vocalist of the Year category, and an eight-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award recipient.

Helm performs in leo ki`eki`e, a trilling falsetto style of singing, a hallmark of traditional Hawaiian performance.

Helm just released a new studio recording, with traditional Hawaiian music from the 1950’s and early 1960’s, including songs that have not been heard in more than 60 years.


Helm continues her efforts to preserve traditional Hawaiian music.  The mission of the foundation is to promote traditional Hawaiian music through music camps, providing scholarships, and producing educational materials to perpetuate the history and music of Hawaiian composers and writers.

Other Hawaii awards include the following:

  • The Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus’ $10,000 grant will support a newly commissioned opera (to premiere in July) and making it available to local schools and other choirs in the United States.
  • The Kahilu Theatre Foundation’s $10,000 grant will support the 10th gathering of the Waimea Ukulele and Slack Key Guitar Institute at the Kahilu Theatre.
  • The Hula Preservation Society’s $14,000 grant will support a series of workshops.
  • Kuleana ‘Oiwi Press’ $12,000 grant will support a Maoli Writers Conference.
  • The Pa’i Foundation’s $40,000 grant supports the Foundation’s operational activities.

The NACF is the first national 501(c)(3) charity committed to building a fund dedicated exclusively to foster the revitalization, appreciation and continuity of Native arts and cultures

This year’s grant sizes ranged from $10,000 to $40,000, with a total allocation of $510,000.

“Support for this country’s Native arts and cultures is critical to our Foundation’s mission, which is to nurture the creativity of Native artists and organizations through our grantmaking program,” said NACF President and CEO T. Lulani Arquette.

“The NACF congratulates all of our 2011 grantees for projects and work that have not only inspired us at the NACF but also raised the visibility of Native arts and cultures in the United States and globally,” said Arquette.

*** Supporting information courtesy NACF.

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