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WE ARE DESCENDANTS OF OUR ANCESTORS, ANCESTORS OF OUR DESCENDANTS.
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Liner Notes, Manao & Song Credits for Aina Kaula: Motherland

 

 

"HE MOKU, HE WAA; HE WAA, HE MOKU."

The island is a canoe; the canoe is an island.

The beauty of a Motherland resides in this well known Hawaiian saying. The land of our connection seeks to sustain us wherever life leads. And a good, journeying canoe, like an island, is loaded with the best of the land. On the evening of November 29, 2014, Keale launched out with his latest album--Aina Kaula: Motherland. After over a decade of music in the islands, multiple recording projects & musical collaborations as well as an award-winning album with the band Kaukahi, Keale offers a deeper connection for all of us to “Home” through the voice of Aina Kaula: Motherland. It echoes the sounds of Uncle Moe Keale, the early Makaha Sons of Niihau, bluegrass, cumbia & ranchera music. The musical arrangements in Aina Kaula: Motherland present Keale’s foundational stylings in fresh ways that make "Keale music" what it is.

With Aina Kaula: Motherland you may recognize the "kanaka roots" stylings of Stephen Inglis & Bill Griffin of "mandolele" fame. Paula Fuga lends her majestic & soul-filled harmonies to a couple of traditional Hawaiian songs. Out of Nashville, Jeff Dayton joins Michael Witcher, a Bay Area dobro specialist, to lay down the grass for Manu Kapalulu & the title cut--Motherland. Down in Hollywood, Paul Cartwright adds his violin to bring Sam Lia's instrumental voice to Hiilawe for the first time ever. Keale’s daughter, Emma Mix, adds harmony to Kern River, Motherland & Lonestar. As always, Chris Lau lays down the upright bass & mixes every collaborator's voice & instrument to produce Keale’s best work yet.

WHEN RECENTLY ASKED ABOUT LINERS...

"Why this collection of songs at this point in time? What are you communicating as an artist by putting all of these songs together and sequencing them in the way that you have?"

HERE'S HIS ANSWER...

My recording projects are always a "reflection" upon my latest intellectual-spiritual & aina-land-stewardship pursuits. RULE #1--Immersion before composition. Only after I feel totally present to a place will I attempt to write for it! In Aina Kaula: Motherland, I have chosen to sing 'through' all the places I would call Motherland--Planada & the San Joaquin Valley/Indian Country, Niihau-connected places, the Sky & Land I inhabit.

 

  1. PULA KAU MAKA is a song for a place that runs most deeply in me--Kaena. Kaena is the physical limit of my last work Kawelona: Ride the Sun. As you travel the road through Waianae, Makaha, Makua & Keawaula you are on the same path as many Tupuna (Ancestors). Kaena is the terrain, a living symbol for transition to the realm of spirits. At the same time PULA KAU MAKA is a song about "he ala nui pii ku"--a most difficult journey. The shoreline to Kaena will bring tears to the eyes of any who walk there in openness--"the eyes are moistened." Kaena is both the ending of the last project & the beginning of the most recent one. The placement of Hawaii '78/In this Life at the end of Kawelona: Ride the Sun offered an overture to places of both spirit-leaping & arrival. So "Kaena ehukai" is the natural opening terrain & shoreline connecting both land & sea for Aina Kaula: Motherland. The world of departure is also the world of arrival and it is most beautiful. The last song on all my projects is always live, unrehearsed & unproduced.
  2. KAMAMAKAKAUA composed by Palani Vaughn is a ku-e (occupation-protest) song to honor those who once led in an attempt to restore power to the Hawaiian Kingdom throne after westerners weakened it through political maneuvering. Here's to those Tupuna who stood for the Monarchy & Sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii! For me this song conjures the early years of my renegade cousins, Skippy & Israel.
  3. KE AO NANI is a traditional chant inspired to music the day I took part in a halau blessing at the school where my cousin Lydia Kamakawiwoole once taught her award-winning halau. "They" (the Ancestors) all showed up, the tears flowed.
  4. MANU KAPALULU is another song that Skippy & Israel featured in their performances, always side by side in the early days. It too is a ku-e (occupation-protest) song composed by then princess Liliuokalani amid her own early skirmishes with western pretenders. Both ku-e songs (Kamamakakaua & Manu Kapalulu) were requested by my Cousin Keone Nunes and guard the beautiful world Lydia inhabits.
  5. KERN RIVER is a song for my Arkansas Grandma Lavesta & tribute to her cousin who drowned there in the '30s as the Dustbowl Kanaka were making their way from Cherokee Country toward their new home. The Cherokee people hold na poe Hawaii in honor as "the Grandfathers." So in a way the "seeds of the dustbowl" were on journey toward Hawaii, yet another ancestral homeland for them.
  6. HIILAWE, in this arrangement, came to me while flying from Hawaii to visit my hometown of Planada & the San Joaquin Valley for a tour last year. I'd been immersed in Jarocho music, "Los Cojolites," from Veracruz & Los Lobos (this arrangement is reminiscent of "La Pistola y El Corazon"). Paul Cartwright, a Mexican friend of mine, plays violin on both "Kern River" & "Hiilawe." Though unfamiliar with the Hawaiian language lyrics of Hiilawe, other than that they speak of a love story told by an Old White-Haired Hawaiian man who played the violin, Paul's violin gives breath & new energy to Sam Lia's song.
  7. MOTHERLAND, both the title cut & chiastic center of the song offerings for Aina Kaula: Motherland, was composed by Natalie Merchant and resonates my family connection to the Cherokee people (Grandma Lavesta was Cherokee) & the tribes of Amelika. It is a haunting anthem to our enduring connection to the Land.
  8. PUPU O NIIHAU appears for my Mom who crossed over while I watched over the Leinaakauhane out at Kaena. The Leinaakauhane is held by many to be the place where spirits migrate to the Otherworld. Beginning at birth the movement is singular--We are all headed to the place of leaping. The arrangement, tempo & phrasing of the song reminds me of Mom's sauntering walks in both Planada & Kekaha.
  9. LONESTAR is next. Once at the place of leaping, the stars represent the final transition to the Realm of Ancestors as they swim toward the halawai.
  10. MOONPIE was composed after a gathering with 108 Kupuna to watch the stars was upstaged by the Moon, bright & full. The second verse of the mele makes reference to the Astronomy professor who'd come out to instruct. Though his opening to the Elders made reference to the North Star as "the most important object in the Hawaiian night sky" he could not find it that night--"You'll come tumbling…off that big mountain you've been standin' on." Uncle Kimo Auwai took the opportunity to "adjust" our misplaced expectations by making us recite a chant for the Moon--30 times before humbly taking his seat!
  11. HELE MAI is the song of leaping--"Alakai oia makou i loaa e ke ola mau"/"Lead us all in the journey to everlasting life." Once the song is pau we are almost ready for the "Land of Dreams." Hele Mai was first recorded by Skippy & Israel and the Makaha Sons of Niihau.
  12. KE LEI MAILA is a song about a daydream in Hiiakaikapoliopele. My own thoughts are of Mom, shining in tranquility. I am Kaula island enwreathed by these gifts of Ohana & the lands of sacred connection. My next album project is Hunamoku: the Land of Dreams recalling the true name & the Niihau traditional name for the islands north & west of Pae Aina o Hawaii Nei--Kanehunamoku. Some of the names of these islands are Holaniku & Holanimoe which mark the boundaries of Kane's sacred lands. That's where Mom is. The album cover for Aina Kaula: Motherland shows me facing a stone at Kukaniloko whichs marks the Azimuth & heading that will bring us to the huna-moku.
  13. IN MY DREAMS, an old cover song done in a style first played by George Harrison, provides the overture to the next project. Recording begins September 2015.

 

SONG CREDITS

1. “Pula Kau Maka” by Keale.
2. Mahalo nui to Uncle Palani Vaughan for sharing your manao & passion for Hawaii’s Royals and those who stand for them in “Kamamakakaua.”
3. “Ke Ao Nani” from the Mary Pukui Collection; music by Keale.
4. “Manu Kapalulu” by Queen Liliuokalani.
5. “Kern River” by Merle Haggard.
6. “Hiilawe” by Tutu Sam Lia Kalainaina, Sr.
7. "Motherland" words and music by Natalie Merchant (C) 2001; Indian Love Bride Music (ASCAP); (P) 2001 Elektra Entertainment; All Rights Reserved; Used By Permission.
8. “Pupu O Niihau” by Mary Robins, Auntie Mileka Kanahele & Johnny Noble.
9. “Lonestar” by Lee Alexander; Copyright: EMI Blackwood Music Inc., Fumblethumbs Music LLC.
10. “Hele Mai” traditional.
11. "Moonpie" by Keale.
12. “Ke Lei Maila” traditional; music by Keale. A conflation of a moment in “Hiiakaikapoliopele” as well as a Oli Makani/Wind Chant from Niihau.
13. "I'll See You in My Dreams" as written by Isham Jones. Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., EMI Music Publishing


LYRICS & TRANSLATION
*Lyrics, translation & manao which follows are for original songs only. All other information for Hawaiian songs can be found at huapala.org.

PULA KAU MAKA (“MOIST ARE THE EYES”)
Music & lyrics by Keale

1. KAENA EHUKAI KAULANA / PULA KAU MAKA A NA TUPUNA E
Famous is the sea spray of Kaena / it is the same water which moistened the eyes of our Ancestors
I KA EHU O NA PALI / KILOHI AU I KA NANI / PULA KAU MAKA A NA TUPUNA E
In the mists of the cliffs / the beauty is mirrored / it is the same water which moistened the eyes of our Ancestors
2. LANA NA MOKU LEWA NUI A KAHIKO / ALA ILIMA I HOOLEI NA MOKU LA
Famous are the ancient floating lands / enwreathed are the islands of Kane
I KA EHU O NA PALI / KILOHI AU I KA NANI / PULA KAU MAKA A NA TUPUNA E
In the mists of the cliffs / the beauty is mirrored / it is the same water which moistened the eyes of our Ancestors
3. KUHALEHALE I ALOHA AINA KAULA / NOHO MALIE LOKU IA E KA NAULU
Love for Kaula accompanies the famed islands / drenched & resting peacefully in the Naulu rains
I KA EHU O NA PALI / KILOHI AU I KA NANI / PULA KAU MAKA A NA TUPUNA E
In the mists of the cliffs / the beauty is mirrored / it is the same water which moistened the eyes of our Ancestors
4. KAAO IA MAI HE ALA NUI PIIKU / LEHULEHU KAULANA NA PUA E
So goes yet another tale of a hard journey / many & famous are the flowers of Kane who have risen along its path
I KA EHU O NA PALI / KILOHI AU I KA NANI / PULA KAU MAKA A NA TUPUNA E
In the mists of the cliffs / the beauty is mirrored / it is the same water which moistened the eyes of our Ancestors.

MANAO/THOUGHTS

Verse 1: The opening phrase of this song comes from a description of a wahi pana on Niihau, "Ohai ehukai kaulana, pula kau maka a na tupuna." When I worked as the Ranger out at Kaena I would celebrate my Grandmother's presence within the elements as they blew by to offer their strength. Her name is Lydia Kaehukai Keale. To see the ehukai blowing by helped make my own sometimes difficult path & journey continue in strength. The “moistening of the eyes” of our Ancestors not only refers to the joys experienced in day to day living along the kahakai but also tears of challenge & trial. Hiiakaikapoliopele describes the winter shoreline of Kaena as turbulent (“i kapeku ke kai”) though the pali in the same breath can be quite peaceful in the passing ehukai birthed by the clamorous sea. The refrain, “I ka ehu o na pali kilohi au i ka nani,” suggests that in rough or calm one may find their own reflection in the folding cliffs. It’s repetition provides the salve for the tenuous nature of each verse.

Verse 2: While we are indeed strengthened by Tupuna, our Ancestors, the greatest source of food for the journey is the Creator, Kanenuiakea. Our family’s spiritual tradition finds its center among the elements of Kane. First and foremost to that tradition, are the “hunamoku” or hidden lands witnessed rarely in the rising & setting of the Sun, the Maka o Kane. Tutu Kaui saw them at Kawaihoa in 1922. Auntie Muriel Lupenui awoke to them at Kaena in the ’70’s on an overnight huakai with haumana. The hunamoku appear when strength is most necessary. Taken as a whole, the limits of Kanehunamoku are marked by the Sun--Holaniku & Holanimoe.The sacred lands of Kane are enwreathed by His kinolau, the five-petalled ilima blossom. The Sun, likewise referred to in Hiiakaikapoliopele as “ka pua o ka ilima,” lights the path on the Summer Solstice to Kaula straight on to Manamana (Necker). The traditional, ancient name for the Northwest Hawaiian Islands is “Kanehunamoku.” It is not an easy trail--“I ka ehu o na pali kilohi au i ka nani.”

Verse 3: “Aina Kaula” is another way that some in our family describe the supernatural islands of Kanehunamoku. Of the heiau out at Kaena one sits hidden on the way to the Leinaakauhane (Leaping place of spirits). “Haupoa” draws the eyes upward if you know where to look. Very few take notice. One kupuna explained to me the name refers to “soil that is perfectly prepared for planting.” This temple is deeply related to practices unique to the area and the Leinaakauhane is focal to these practices. Niihau has a strong connection to the whole area as well so as the ehukai passes by it often mingles with the Naulu rains, a sign of abundance, blessing & sacredness. The approach to this temple must be made with care as it rests in the talus slopes of Kaena--“I ka ehu o na pali kilohi au i ka nani.”

Verse 4: I have chosen to describe the mele as a kaao (“tale”) because it is composed for those who have come before us, stand with us now & are yet to come. The traditions of Kane live on through our families. One kupuna explained to me one day how the Leinaakauhane stands as the beginning of the most difficult journey--the transition from this world to the next. I stood at the Leinaakauhane the moment I learned my friend, Kaao McKinney, had lost his battle to live. Hence, another explanation for my choice of words.*My ohana sources for language & manao for this mele are my cousins Tuti Kanahele, Kaanohi Aipa & Keone Nunes. Kaualana na pua ilima a Kane who hold to the traditions of our Tupuna.

 

KE AO NANI ("THE BEAUTIFUL WORLD")

Traditional/Music by Keale

1. I LUNA LA, I LUNA / NA MANU O KA LEWA / EA, EA, EA EA
Up above, up above / the Birds are in the heavens / Life, life, life!
I LALO LUA, I LALO / NA PUA O KA HONUA / EA, EA, EA, EA
Below / rest the flowers on the earth / Life, life, life!
HE INOA NO NA KAMALII, HE INOA NO NA KAMALII, HE INOA NO NA KAMALII!
For the Children, for the children, for the children!
2. I UKA LA, I UKA LA / NA ULU LAAU / EA, EA, EA, EA
In the mountains / are the trees / Life, life, life!
I KAI LA, I KAI / NA IA O KA MOANA / EA, EA, EA, EA
In the ocean / are the fish / Life, life, life!
HE INOA NO NA KAMALII, HE INOA NO NA KAMALII, HE INOA NO NA KAMALII!
For the Children, for the children, for the children!
3. HAINA MAI KA PUANA / A HE NANI KE AO NEI / EA, EA, EA, EA
Here's the end of the song / beautiful the world / Life, life, life!
HE INOA NO NA KAMALII, HE INOA NO NA KAMALII, HE INOA NO NA KAMALII!
For the Children, for the children, for the children!

MANAO/THOUGHTS

Verse 1: The oli is often taught to first time hula students as noho ("seated" hula) and employs a series of couplets to convey "wholeness" or "completeness" in the same way a sunrise can only be experienced in its totality on the day one witnesses the sunset: "Mai ka la hiki a ka la kau" as the saying goes "from rising to setting." This couplet draws us into the complete beauty of the world and those who inhabit it from heaven to earth. From the birds in the Sky to the flowers of the Earth beauty is complete!

Verse 2: The next pairing uses "the mountain to the sea" to complete the thought. These relationships offer life and perpetuate who we are as kanaka ("natives") through simple thoughts in basic ways that most any child would understand: birds, flowers, forests & fish--for the sake of the children!

Verse 3: The story ends with the simple affirmation that the world is, indeed, beautiful!

 

HELE MAI

Composed by Mama Hughe

1. ALAKAI O IA MAKOU
Lead us, Everlasting Father
I LOAA E KE OLA MAU
Into a life eternal

2. HELE MAI KA UHANE NO
Come, Holy Spirit
KOMO MAI HE LAUNA PU
Be at home in this gathering

MANAO/THOUGHTS

Verse 1: This song echoed throughout my childhood years. Our days were spent in the Yokut, Miwok, Ohlone & Paiute Country of the San Joaquin Valley but each summer had its beginning on the beach at Makua! Swim all day, listen to music all night. GO CHURCH ON SUNDAY!! Skippy, Israel & the Makaha Sons of Niihau led the sacred music and this song never left my soul. For me this song expresses the essence of all of life--in all things, Creator guides and 'everlasting life' is not in the future but can be taken hold of in the here & now. In the smallest & most beautiful gestures among family & friends our Father seeks to bless & guide!

Verse 2: The invitation & request for the Spirit to be truly 'at Home' among us in the day to day is ongoing and may never end!

 

MOONPIE

Music & lyrics by Keale

1. WE ARE SAILING TO THE MOON
TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT & SHE IS SMILING
OFF THE TRAIL WE WILL PICK IT UP IN TIME
CASH IN THOSE STARS IN OUR POCKETS
CASH IN THOSE STARS IN OUR POCKETS

(CHORUS)

IT MIGHT JUST BE ENOUGH, IT MIGHT JUST BE ENOUGH
IT MIGHT JUST BE ENOUGH TO BRING US HOME
TO BRING US HOME

2. IF YOU LEAVE IT FOR TOO LONG
THAT TRAIL WILL SURELY LET YOU GO
YOU'LL COME TUMBLIN' LIKE A STAR TO THE EARTH
OFF THAT BIG MOUNTAIN YOU BEEN STANDIN' ON

(CHORUS)

IT MIGHT JUST BE ENOUGH, IT MIGHT JUST BE ENOUGH
IT MIGHT JUST BE ENOUGH TO BRING US HOME
TO BRING US HOME

MANAO/THOUGHTS

Verse 1: This song came to life during the 6 years I spent alongside the Elders who taught Hawaiian Studies throughout Hawaii. During that time my daughter, Emma, was growing up and as I travelled from island to island to learn I'd pickup a "Moonpie" on the way home to give her. "Daddy, did you bring me something from the Moon?", she'd ask. The set up for the rest of the song comes from a particularly humorous event in which the Department of Education had brought together about a 108 Elders to be "trained."

The evening was crisp & the Moon strong & fierce as we made our way across the street to the parking lot at the YMCA/Camp Erdman. There to conduct a session around the "Hawaiian Night Sky" a UH Astronomy instructor proceeded to tell us about the Sky's "most important object": Hokupaa, the North Star. However, from the very start of the lecture the Moon was made a problem because, of course, we had gathered to see Stars!

Verse 2: On & on, our illustrious instructor continued to no avail and, if you can believe it, never once could he point to the North Star! As the evening wore on many of the Elders actually began to join him in complaining for the brightness of the Moon, whose only mistake was not to check in with our instructor ahead of time. Of course, the Elders were only joining in because they felt bad for him. When the first hour had passed Kupuna Kimo Auwai, whose family roots went back to Molokai (they say "nui a Hina" or famous for it's Moon), stood up to address us all.

In typical Hawaiian style "correcting without correcting" Uncle Kimo simply taught us a chant honoring the many phases of the Moon. We learned it alright! That is, after reciting it around 30 times! Not a few Elders were themselves smiling at the lesson. The line "you'll come tumblin' like a star to the Earth" is reference to the Instructor :)


KE LEI MAILA

Traditional/Music by Keale

1. KE LEI MAILA O KAULA I KE KAI E / A MALAMALAMA O NIIHAU I KA MALIE

As with a lei, Kaula is enwreathed by the Sea / Niihau shines in the calm
CHORUS: A MALAMA KE KAAO O KOU ALOHA / O KOU ALOHA HOI E
With tender care your love will always be kept / may it return again one day

2. HANOHANO NIIHAU I KAU IKE / A KA NAULU AE HOOIPO NEI
Splendid is Niihau to see for yourself / as it is blessed in the Naulu
CHORUS: A MALAMA KE KAAO O KOU ALOHA / O KOU ALOHA HOI E
With tender care your love will always be kept / may it return again one day

3. PUANA IA MAI NO KEIA MELE / HE MELE HE ALOHA NO KUU AINA
This song is now complete / a song of aloha for my land
CHORUS: A MALAMA KE KAAO O KOU ALOHA / O KOU ALOHA HOI E
With tender care your love will always be kept / may it return again one day

MANAO/THOUGHTS

Verse 1: This verse can be found in the Legend of Hiiakaikapoliopele and describes the love once shared between Lohiau & a friend. It is commonly used in Hula circles as an adornment chant. Here I use it to reference a Niihau legend about a journey of love to Kaula rock, a place held sacred by the people of Niihau. In the legend an ancestor once turned into an iwa (frigate bird) to fight his way past the contrary winds finding safe harbor on Kaula. The same chant (Calling to the Stars) is part of the welcome among many coastal tribes including the Lummi and Makah.

Verse 2: This verse comes from a Niihau Oli Makani (wind chant) and, once more, focuses the listener on how blessed the island is--the Naulu is both a wind & rain that signifies abundance.

Verse 3: So this song comes to its completion as a mele aloha aina, a song of love for one’s land.