I am thrilled to make my debut this Kauwela season with the Nā Wai Chamber Choir. It is such a tremendous honor to sing under the fabulous artistic direction of Jace Saplan. As a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools Kapālama, I have had the great fortune of singing Hawaiian choral music at an early age, as well as the challenging yet rewarding opportunity of teaching Song Contest repertoire to students as an alum. As I furthered my musical studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, I learned more about how truly special and sacred our culture is.
To me, Queen Lili’uokalani is a beautiful example of a woman who lived out a harmonious blend of her culture and her faith. Personally, I cannot have my faith without also respecting my culture, nor could I cling to my culture without regards for my faith. For me, I must have both because both are valuable. The Queen is radiant to me because she diligently, bravely, and gracefully sought Ke Akua as a proud Native Hawaiian woman. She processed much of her feelings and experiences through songwriting, to which I can relate. I am so honored to sing her songs as she arranged them, with great respect to the time in which they were written. We do well to remember what a talented musician and composer she was.
Our new name, Nā Wai, brings such a sense of connectedness to all that is around us. Water gives life. Without it, we cannot survive. Our name alone (Mahalo Nui, Mama Saplan!) showcases our awareness of creation as a whole, for water gives life to all things. Embracing creation means celebrating indigenous cultures in a world that is increasingly Westernized. It is a great joy to honor treble voices with Nā Wai chamber choir.