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Archive for the ‘AHC Home’ Category

Aloha gang!

I am so excited to share the news:

Our album, MELE O HĀLAWA, has made it to the preliminary ballot for the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards!

(Note: This isn’t the final ballot. This is the BIG ballot, the preliminary one, that has hundreds of entries. Hopefully enough folks will vote for it and it will appear on final ballot. At that point, we can consider ourselves official “nominees.”)

During the first discussions we had about the documentary SONS OF HĀLAWA, we talked about the necessity and the challenge of incorporating music into the film. That can be a difficult-to-navigate area, a full-time job. I was naive. I was optimistic. I said to Matt Yamashita, the filmmaker, “Why don’t I just write songs for the film? Then you can have them and we’ll be good to go.”

It never dawned on me that writing songs might be, um… a bit challenging  Ha!  As soon as I realized what I’d said, I knew I was in for a wild ride!

Thankfully, the soundtrack for the film included music by other folks as well. Pops, an accomplished haku mele (songwriter) contributed two songs to the album. And Molokai’s own amazing musician/producer, Lono, contributed two songs. With my own two compositions, we had six original tracks and we used traditional music from Molokai to round out the album. Each song was chosen for its own special reasons, making it a deeply personal collection of heart-filled songs from Molokai.

One of the greatest things the album offers is a rare glimpse into the rich and diverse musical landscape of Molokai and Hālawa Valley. Some of these songs on the album have never really been heard outside of the valley!  It’s intense!

We recorded the tracks in marathon-style when I was on island for a week. Lono put together beautifully layered instrumental tracks. Pops and I sang our faces off in the studio. And then Lono finessed and produced the finished musical project in time for the songs to be woven into stunningly beautiful documentary, SONS OF HĀLAWA.

What started out as a soundtrack for the film has become a legacy album–a way for future generations to hear, study and (most importantly) enjoy the music of one of Hawaii’s most beautiful and remote islands.

It’s such an honor to see the album’s journey and the film’s journey, reaching audiences we never dreamed of.

And it’s a blessing to know that future audiences, future generations, will be able to witness it all, too.

If you are a HARA member, please consider voting for our “little album that could” in the following categories:

Group of the Year: Pilipo and Jason with Lonomusic

Island Music Album of the Year: MELE O HĀLAWA

Favorite Entertainer of the Year: Pilipo and Jason with Lonomusic

Album of the Year: MELE O HĀLAWA

Who would have thought that a kupuna (elder) from Molokai’s remote Hālawa Valley and a dude from New York City (along with the always-amazing Lonomusic!) would record an album together?

MELE O HĀLAWA is a dream come true.

The album is for sale online via MKAloha.com and Mele.com.

#SupportHawaiianMusic!

Mahalo. Thank you.

And…

Right on.

2 Comments

A MUSIC VIDEO: HEALING WATERS

Monday, December 14, 2015

Have you seen it?

Matt Yamashita (Quazifilms) made a fantastic music video for my original song, HEALING WATERS!

I love it so much!  Matt recorded new footage of me singing down by the river in Hālawa Valley the day after the Molokai premier of the documentary Sons of Hālawa!  (Yup. True story. That really is the river behind me–no green screen involved!  We were so blessed with lighting and weather conditions that afternoon.  Matt set up a microphone for me to use a prop along with my headphones to create a “studio vibe.”  And here’s a fun fact for you: I used a recording of HEALING WATERS from Matt’s phone to sing along with. The phone was discretely tucked into my pocket.)

The video weaves together the newly recorded footage along with images from the film. It’s spectacular and I hope you’ll click on the link above and watch it. (And re-watch again and again!)

The video originally premiered on Facebook on Thanksgiving day. (It’s been viewed over 3,000 times already!) That was something to be thankful for, for sure! I was excited to learn he’d recently posted it on Youtube, too. Now I can share it with you!

Another video is being created for my song LIFE IN HĀLAWA, also featured on the soundtrack for the film. (Note: The songs have all been amazingly arranged and recorded by Molokai’s own LONO.  And there are 2 of his fantastic original mele on the soundtrack, too!)

More details about that and the film and the amazingly cool experience of attending the film’s premier at the Honolulu International Film Festival coming soon!

Until then, kick back and relax and let your mind go to beautiful Hālawa Valley with this video.

Right on.

With warm Aloha

Jason

 

8 Comments

#ShareAloha

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jason Poole, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, Molokai, Halawa Valley, Aloha i kekahi i kekahi

Sharing Aloha is something everyone can do.

It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture.

It can be simple:

Nourishing and caring for the self, both in mind and body, so that we can present our best selves to the world

Taking a deep breath to center yourself before engaging in a conversation.

Offering your seat to someone on a crowded bus or subway

Holding the door for someone

A kind smile as you pass someone on the street 

Saying “Aloha” to a friend or neighbor (or even – gulp! – a stranger!)

We CAN make a difference in the world by starting with our own actions. Simply Sharing Aloha in our own way can make a diffence, one person at a time. A ripple effect, as the wave of Aloha spreads out and reaches more and more people.

Aloha i kekahi i kekahi. Love one another

We need your simple acts of Aloha. Today. Right now. Always.

Right on.

How can YOU share Aloha in the world today?

*Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

#ShareAloha

off

Aloha, gang!

Here’s a quick video check-in about the upcoming word premier of the documentary Sons of Hālawa!

I am so excited!  One week from today!

Let the magic begin.

Right on.

*Please be sure to check out the Quazifilms website (click HERE) for more information about other exciting projects.

*For the schedule of the film’s showings, please click HERE.

4 Comments

Sharing Aloha in our public schools.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Jason Poole, Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, Molokai, Halawa Valley, Anakala Pilipo Solatorio, Midori and Friends, Aloha, teaching artist

My ‘eke (bag) filled with an ipu heke, pūʻili, a shell lei and my ʻukulele.

Last week I had the great privilege of teaching/sharing Hawaiian music and culture at a public elementary school out in Howard Beach, New York. My friends lovingly refer to it as the “far out school.”  But not in a Greg Brady or John Denver kind of “far out” way.  See, this school is about a two hour commute from my apartment. To get there, I’ve got to take the subway for about an hour and then walk approximately 1.5 miles to get to the school through neighborhoods and over footbridge that crosses a busy highway. In previous years, I’ve visited this school in the scorching heat and humidity of early summer as well as the freezing cold of deep winter with icicles hanging from my nose.

But this school is a favorite place to teach/share Hawaiian music and culture.  The students and the faculty celebrate music and diverse cultures. This was my third year acting as a visiting teacher via Midori & Friends, the non-profit music education organization I work with.  When I walked through the door last Monday, it was a homecoming of sorts. (And they always make me feel like a rock star!)

When they ask if I can come and do a residency, the answer is always a resounding YES.

Did I mention that at this school I work with the kindergarten classes? Yup. All of ‘em.  That means I’m sharing Hawaiian music and culture with about 110 students, all of ‘em about five years old.  It’s like doing four back-to-back high energy shows every day. (It reminds me of college-age summers when I performed at a theme park.) It’s wild. It’s exhausting.

And it’s one of the most soul-fulfilling experiences of my life.

It dawned on me a little while ago that most of these kids have only been on the planet for about five years. They haven’t seen all of the touristy photos and movies about Hawai’i that are circulating among the masses. They’re not familiar with with the postcard “paradise” images that so many people associate with the Hawaiian islands–and that’s a blessing. (For one thing, I don’t have to spend as much time convincing them that Hawai’i is real place with real people and not just drowsy-eyed ’ukulele strummers sitting under coconut trees or majestic surfer dudes riding the waves with ladies sitting on their shoulders.)

For a lot of them, I am giving them their first taste of the islands and traditional Hawaiian culture. (But you know, no worries. No pressure or anything!) I have the privilege/honor/kuleana of introducing them to Hawai’i.

I bring my ‘ukulele. I bring maps. I bring lots and lots of photos. I share lots and lots of stories. One of the perks of being an “outsider who became an insider” of Hawai’i and her culture is that I’ve done everything–and I mean everything–wrong at some point. I’ve stumbled and stammered and put my foot in my mouth more times than I care to disclose.  So when I tell them about Hawai’i, I share it from the perspective of a fellow newbie/neophyte. We laugh a lot. I try to make them feel like we’re all learning together.

We sing songs, both traditional school kid-kine songs and my own original compositions. This year, I wanted to write a new song about Hōkūleʻa and how the canoe will be visiting New York City in 2016. I wanted the kids to have a song they could carry and simple hula they could dance–something to share with the crew if they went to visit the boat. (Songs and hulas are free and portable. You can’t beat that!)

I really struggled with the song at first, wanting to make it perfect, wanting to write something profound. But it came down to this: I needed to create something simple and relatable for these kids. I wanted to share 2 things: Hōkūleʻa is sailing around the world. She’s carrying a message of Mālama Honua, taking care of the earth.  Once I got my ego out of the way (Imagine standing in front of the Hōkūleʻa crew with throngs of students all singing the song and doing the simple hula!) the song basically wrote itself. A simple song. A simple hula. And an opportunity to discuss how we all have the responsibility to mālama honua.

All week long, we sang and danced ourselves silly. We laughed at stories of the goofy things that Uncle Jason has done in Hawaiʻi, about being afraid of lizards in the house, about getting a bellyache from eating too much inamona.

I told them about Hālawa Valley and its lifestyle that is so much like the traditonal lifestyle of Hawaiʻi long ago.  We talked about how Mom and Pops Solatorio adopted me into their family, how I look different from all of their children, how ʻohana is family based on feeling instead of bloodline.

I gave them a very basic introduction to the Hawaiian language.

And these kids! Ah! I’ll tell you, they’re so wonderful they can make your knees buckle with their smiles and enthusiasm.

There are kids in the classroom who don’t speak English very well. But you’d be amazed to see that these are the same little kids who give you a shaka and an “Aloha, Uncle Jason!” every morning when you greet them.  There are other kids who are part of the special needs program who shock me by coming up to me and saying, “Uncle Jason, did you know there are three ways to say Hawai’i (Ha-WHY-ee, Ha-WAH-ee and Ha-VAI-ee) and also I love you.”

And when I walked down the halls of the schools in between classes, I felt like a celebrity. Those shining faces with bright eyes, those little hands giving me a shaka wave and their voices ringing out, “Aloha, Uncle Jason!”

Come on! Does it get any better than that?

On Friday, all four of the classes gathered in the school’s auditorium for our big “show.” My friend, Kaina, came to dance hula for them. And they were so excited to share the songs and keiki hulas they’d learned with her!  Imagine a school’s auditorium, nearly-filled to capacity with kindergarten students (and some fifth graders who’d recently done a report on Hawai’i), all singing and dancing.

Incredible.  It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

You know, I freaked out a little bit when Pops gave me the title of Kumu Hawaii a few years ago, when he said, “Now it’s YOUR turn to be a teacher.” I asked him what I was supposed to do with that heavy responsibility. I hadn’t grown up in Hawai’i.  I didn’t think anyone would want to learn from someone like me.

But that’s where I was wrong. I was hung up on my skin color, my background, the fact that I’m not Hawaiian. He had trained me and tested me. He trusted me. I needed to trust myself.

And I remind myself of that every time I do a new residency, every time I have the opportunity to share what’s been so graciously and lovingly shared with me.

When I walked away from the school on Friday, I knew that I’d planted seeds of Aloha. Some would grow. Some might not. Some kids may remember my name someday. Some might not. But I’ll bet a lot of them will remember that a man came to their school when they were kids and he brought an ‘ukulele and wore wild shirts and leis. He sang songs and taught them to hula. And he taught them that Aloha doesn’t mean “Hi” or “Goodbye” but it really means, “I love you my friend.”

And if that’s all that they remember, then I’ve done my job.

A blessing, indeed.

Mahalo for that, kids.

Right on.

 

4 Comments

You’ve seen it, right? The trailer for the soon-to-be-released documentary SONS OF HALAWA?

(Be sure to click on the photo above to watch it!)

As of this writing, the trailer has been viewed on Facebook over 54,000 times!  And it’s been shared almost 2,400 times!

This amazing documentary will be making its WORLD PREMIER at the Honolulu International Film Festival next month on O’ahu!

(Please click HERE for more details about showtimes and ticketing.)

I wanted to make sure you guys knew about this.

But you already did, right?

Because this “little film from Molokai” is already making a lot of beautiful noise.

Right on.

How many times have YOU viewed the trailer? Drop me a line and let me know!

**A giant CONGRATULATIONS to my hānai Molokai brother, filmmaker Matt Yamashita and Quazifilms!   AND… Sons of Halawa will be shown as part of a double-feature along with another fantastic Quazifilms production, The Roots of ʻUlu!

 

6 Comments