The Spirit of “Mele” | Behind The Collaboration With Playing For Change And Mana Maoli

Turnaround Jack Paula

We had the wonderful opportunity a few years ago to collaborate with a talented choir of young Hawaiian musicians. This collaboration with the Mana Maoli Collective Group in one of our Songs Around The World “Love,” was the beginning of our Songs Across Hawaiʻi Series, filmed across numerous locations in Hawaii as part of their #ManaMele project, which features a Music & Multimedia Academy and Solar Mobile Studio with programs in more than a dozen schools.

Mana Maoli, MELE, and the Mana Mele Collective.

Founded in 1999, Mana Maoli is a collective of educators, artists, musicians, cultural practitioners, community organizers, and families who share a common vision of, and action toward, community empowerment through our three primary purposes:

  1. Community-based education and awareness.

  2. Pooling and sharing of resources.

  3. Sustainability at both the environmental and economic levels, as well as at the self and community level.

Mana Maoli Collective Live From Hawai'i | June 24, 2020 | #stayhomewithPFC

Read the full history of the Mana Maoli Collective here: https://manamaoli.org/about/history/ 

Knowledge Through Music, The Gift Of History from Hawaii to the World.

Music possesses a remarkable power to bridge gaps and foster a sense of unity among diverse cultures and communities. Nowhere is this more evident than in the enchanting tunes originating from the stunning archipelago of Hawaii and resonating with people worldwide.

From the serene ukulele melodies to the vibrant beats of hula rhythms, Hawaiian music has become a universal language that transcends borders, inviting individuals from all walks of life to join in a harmonious celebration.

Here are some of the most outstanding performances from the Mana Maoli Collective, creating moments that will be remembered for years to come!

1. Island Style - ʻŌiwi Ē Medley | Song Across Hawaiʻi

The “Island Style - ‘Oiwi E” medley is a massive all-star, intergenerational collaboration featuring John Cruz, Jack Johnson, and many more of Hawai’i’s top ʻMana Mele Collectiveʻ artists across many genres, alongside over 1,000 Hawaiian Charter School youth. Recorded live across 15 locations, this medley is dedicated to the Cruz ‘Ohana and Kumu John Keola Lake.

John Cruz first released “Island Style” in 1997, while John was in New York, he wrote this song while reflecting on memories of home, where music was a constant.

“The thought there is mom’s cooking dinner, my sister sitting on the couch, harmonizing to whatever my mom happens to be singing, not consciously, but you know, mom’s just humming some song,” he said in the Island Beat Podcast with Billy V. “Music was always just, it wasn’t even special, you know, it was just something that happened all the time at my house.”

On the other part of this medley we have “Ōiwi Ē,” a song dedicated to the beloved teacher of St. Louis School, Kumu John Keolamakaʻāinana Lake, who composed the Hawaiian lyrics to this Maori melody.

Kumu John Lake

Kumu John Lake dedicated his life to teach the youth and pass on the Hawaiian traditions through chants, dances and numerous community activities across the island. He was a 32-year experienced veteran who educated thousands of students from all walks of life in Hawaiian language.

“Ōiwi E celebrates the ties between Hawaiians and their lands, and with their Maori cousins. It has since become an anthem of Hawaiian pride among many youth in the Hawaiian Immersion and Charter Schools.” -Mana Mele

Get the lyrics and translations to these songs here.

2. "Kū Ha'aheo" & "Hawai'i Loa" - Worldwide #Jam4MaunaKea

“When the tallest mountain in the world sings, what does that sound like?” - Mana Maoli Collective

The #Jam4MaunaKea Movement was a music project created to bring support and awareness to the Hawaiian community concerns for the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

One morning in July 2019, more than 30 elderly Hawaiian Natives gathered on the top of Mauna Kea as the last effort to stop the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, which was expected to be the largest telescope in the Northern Hemisphere.

The discussion regarding the construction of the telescopes in the mountain, has been among the elders and locals since the 1970s, with some people in favor of new job opportunities and research areas, and others opposing it because of the pollution and negative impact on the local community, which were not consulted firsthand before starting the construction.

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According to The Guardian, The protests have attracted international support, including from actor Jason Momoa (center) – pictured here with his children while visiting elders and Native Hawaiian protesters. Photograph: Hollyn Johnson/AP.

The problem is not the telescope's construction, but the site that was chosen. Mauna a Wākea is not only one of the tallest mountains on the island; the dormant volcano towering 4,200 meters above sea level is also considered sacred in traditional Hawaiian culture.

This ancient tradition says that only the Ali'i (high chiefs) are allowed to climb to its summit, where their most sacred ancestors are buried. After all, there are currently 13 telescopes in total atop Mauna Kea, which led many Hawaiians to say, "Enough is enough." Following this, the locals became worried that by allowing the creation of the telescope, there would be more and more constructions to come.

In 2023, an ongoing discussion and potential resolution have emerged within the astronomical community and the local Hawaiian community concerning the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. Hopefully, these discussions aim to foster greater understanding, collaboration, and mutual respect.

3. Color of the ‘Āina | Pō & the 4fathers | Live Outside

This original song by Pō & the 4 Fathers, was filmed and recorded live outside at the Waiahole Poi Factory on O’ahu.

"Color of the ‘Āina” expresses the happiness and satisfaction of being with family and friends in Hawai’i and conveys the importance of gathering together to celebrate relationships, victories and the perseverance as a people and a lāhui [nation].

Pō & the 4fathers have been playing for 10 years. Their genre, which has deep Maoli roots, speaks of true stories and lessons of love and hate, of war and peace, strongly rooted in culture. They take this familiar sound and mix it with more modern music, making a sound that represents the forward movement of Hawai’i music and its people.

The band is currently formed by Kawaiolimaikamapuna Hoe (vocals, ukulele), Roman Corpuz (vocals, guitar), Kiliona Young (vocals, guitar), Kalei Young (vocals, bass), Kalei Yamanoha (steel guitar), and Lopaka Colon (percussion).

Don’t forget to support this band by subscribing to their Youtube channel!

Meleana Sessions | Kiliona Young & Kainani Kahaunaele: Hōpoe

4. Little Bit of Love - Jack Johnson, John Cruz & Friends

Written by John Cruz & Mark Herschler, this song was recorded live at Papahana Kuaola as a bonus track video accompanying a 38-track benefit double CD, "Mana Maoli Volumes IV & V", featuring over 100 pro artists and youth from 13 Hawaiian charter schools across the islands.

The CD is an inspiring collaboration between over 100 pro artists and over 100 youth representing 13 charter schools across the islands.

5. "Hawaiʻi ʻ78" | Song Across Hawaiʻi

Following Mana Maoli’s "Song Across Hawaiʻi" series, this song takes a new turn 40 years after it was composed by the teenager Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole' on Hawaiʻi island.

This version of the Mana Maoli Collective reunites more than 14 schools and over 40 artists from 29 locations across four islands. They now share their rendition of this timeless classic, with an unforgettable message.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, also known as "Iz," gained international recognition when his album "Facing Future" was released in 1993, which included his medley blending the timeless classics "Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World."

6. Rain On Sunday | Paula Fuga | Playing For Change x Mana Maoli Collaboration

Playing For Change teamed up with @ManaMaoli to produce this video, filmed and recorded live on location at Palehua, Oʻahu.

"Rain On Sunday" is the title track from Paula's latest released album, inspired by an unexpected downpour she experienced after breakfast one Sunday morning.

"It started pouring rain... dumping really hard, one of those really hard rains that just comes out of nowhere and it rumbles through your whole house," says Paula, whose husband was not interested in joining her in listening to the sound of the rain. "I was tripping out! Who is this guy that I married that doesnʻt wanna listen to the rain? I was stunned. I was sulking for a couple minutes, then BOOM - this beautiful melody came to my head."

Once the rain cleared up, Paula heard the birds chirping and saw the sun making its way through the clouds. "It was just so beautiful. I wrote this song right there on the spot, thinking about all the beautiful things I like to do in nature."

Listen to the full album here.

7. Hawai'i Aloha | Song Across Hawai'i

"Hawai’i Aloha" features dozens of Hawai‘i’s top artists across many genres, and over 1,000 youth from 10 Hawaiian charter schools in one epic song. Recorded live across 27 locations, this is Hawaiiʻs most widely known song, used to close important gatherings of all sizes. It is a song of unity and Aloha ‘Aina (Aloha for one’s birthplace, land and home).

About this collaboration: Mana Maoli, a Hawaiian nonprofit, teamed up with Playing For Change and 4 Miles as part of their Mana Mele Project, which features a solar mobile studio and a Music & Multimedia Academy. Alongside the youth - on campus, in real-world settings, and in this video, is the "Mana Mele Collective '' - over 200 artists, engineers, and filmmakers who donate their time and talents to mentorships, recordings, and concerts in support of these schools. We hope you enjoy watching this collaborative effort as much as we enjoyed creating it!

Have you seen our latest release featuring some of Mana Maoli’s greatest artists?

“Better Together” is a single release from Jack Johnson's third studio album, In Between Dreams, inspired by his love for his wife. “Better Together” has a universal message that “it’s always better together” when we lead with love as the answer.

From Playing For Change, we want to express gratitude to all of our collaborators for granting us this incredible opportunity to expand our horizons and explore new talents around the world!

Do you have a new talent to share with us? Let us know in the comments or send us your suggestions by filling out the form below:

Click here

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Check out more songs from Mana Maoli and their website:


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mana_maoli/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ManaMaoliCollective
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/ManaMaoli

Want to get involved? Find out how here.

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