Q&A: Kalani Pe‘a, Hawaiian star

Singer-songwriter Kalani Pe‘a performs at Irvine Barclay Theatre on Oct. 13.

Singer-songwriter Kalani Pe‘a performs at Irvine Barclay Theatre on Oct. 13. His 2017 debut album, “E Walea,” won a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Music Album – making him the first Hawaiian singer ever to win that category.

How did you start playing music? 

I had a speech impediment at age 2. My mom and dad introduced music to me. I started singing Disney music, then got into choir and vocal lessons. I have been singing for over 30 years, and music stopped my speech problem.

Who were your musical influences? 

I come from an ‘ohana (family) who loved singing Mormon music, American roots, bluegrass, jazz, contemporary, Hawaiian, classical music and more. This is the beauty about Hawaii. We’re a melting pot of various cultures and ethnic backgrounds, and we are raised to embrace and love all cultural values and practices.

How has winning Grammys impacted you? 

I am still that Hawaiian homestead boy from Hilo, and I will never forget my roots and where I come from. Accolades don’t change my identity or define me. I have to exude aloha and show grace for all of these amazing experiences and opportunities lying right before my eyes.

What can we expect at your Barclay show?

I will perform music from three of my Grammy-winning albums while collaborating with Na Mamo O Pana‘ewa (school of hula) and Chase Keoki Wang (master teacher). I also will perform some surprise Motown hits in both English and Hawaiian.


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