Maui Arts & Entertainment

Maui’s Kamalei Kawa‘a Releases New Single, Sweet Dreams Ku‘u Momi

March 22, 2021, 6:59 AM HST
* Updated March 22, 7:06 AM
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Kamalei Kawaʻa (center). Courtesy photo.

Kamalei Kawaʻa of Waiehu, Maui, and leader of the Grammy-nominated and four-time Nā Hōkū award-winning group Nā Wai ʻEhā, debuts his first solo recording and music video, Sweet Dreams Kuʻu Momi

A fluent speaker of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, Kawaʻa is a product of Ke Kula Kaiapuni ma Maui and a current student of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College. As a full-time teacher at Seabury Hall and director of the He Hāʻupu Aloha hula program, Kamalei credits hula, his kumu hula, and his parents for inspiring him to sing Hawaiian music. 

Growing up around music, Kawaʻa’s inspiration to sing Hawaiian music eventually became a kuleana, as he realized that “there were only a few kids our age singing Hawaiian music.” In 2012, he founded “Nā Wai ʻEhā,” a group whose traditional Hawaiian music eventually garnered four Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards.

“As I embark on this new journey to become a solo recording artist, I’m so grateful for my ʻohana who has always supported me in my decision to play and sing Hawaiian music,” said Kawaʻa. “I am also grateful for the many people who inspired me to become the musician I am today. Most importantly, I am grateful to ke Akua for blessing me with the gift of music.”

Kawaʻa’s debut release is a composition for his late great-grandmother, Mary Momi Kaililaau Kawai, affectionately known as “Granny” by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. Kawaʻa recalled fond memories of his Granny’s stories––from living in the uplands of Kailua, to summers of farming kalo at Pāpaʻaʻea. These stories resonated with a deep love for her home in Koʻolau, Maui, and as such, inspired Kamalei to compose this honorific mele––releasing it on her birthday, March 22. 

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“As you enjoy this mele,” Kawaʻa shares, “I hope that you are reminded of your loved ones who have passed, and remember that they are watching you from the heavens above until our time comes to be reunited with them.” To his Granny, he dedicates this refrain: “E moe i ke aloha mau loa––sleep in everlasting love.”

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Sweet Dreams Kuʻu Momi is available on all digital platforms today.

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