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Posts Tagged ‘Halawa’

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 and


Mahalo. Thank you.


Right on.


jason poole, metta, lovingkindness meditation, halawa valley, pilipo solatorio, compassion, aloha, molokai, hawaiian language, kumu hawaii

The other day, someone asked me:

“What’s the Hawaiian word for compassion?”

August has been called Metta Month or Lovingkindness Month. (Metta is the word for lovingkindness or compassion in an ancient language called Pali.  Not to be confused with the Hawaiian word pali which means cliffs.)

And lately there’s been a lot of buzz on social media about compassion, mostly about offering traditional phrases associated with a metta meditation practice:

May I be safe.

May I be happy.

May I be heathy.

May I dwell in peace.

In the meditation practice, the phrases are directed inward, toward the self, first.  Then they are directed outward, toward another individual.  And then they’re directed toward all beings everywhere.

So when I was asked what the Hawaiian word for compassion is, I had to stop and think about it for a minute.  Why? Well, because I couldn’t remember Pops and I ever talking about compassion with each other, at least not in a formal sense.  And because I didn’t have my Hawaiian dictionary with me.

I’m not a native Hawaiian speaker. I started learning the language late-ish in life from Pops.  (A little backstory: When my “official studies” in Hālawa Valley began—even before I even understood they were beginning—he suddenly refused to speak English to me. He only spoke Hawaiian. I tried to explain to him that I didn’t understand what he was saying and he said that was ok. I could learn by observing. And the only way I’d learn how to speak Hawaiian would be if I HAD to use it to communicate.  More on that whole experience in an upcoming blog post.)

So I imagined being in Hālawa Valley and trying to communicate with Pops.  Not having a dictionary has forced me to be resourceful and creative with the language. (Note: Pops assures me that this is how people used to speak a long time ago, figuring out how to convey what they meant to say on the spot, even though vocabulary varied from island to island or even district to district. I trust him. Kind of.)

How would I convey the word compassion to him?

I thought about what the practice really meant, about what those phrases were really saying.  And it came down to this one word: A L O H A

Aloha is love. And yes, it can mean love in a romantic way. But really it’s love at its most basic essence.  Love between friends. Family love. Some might even say Divine Love.

I added the words I love you in front of the four classic metta phrases and it made perfect sense:

I love you. May you be safe.

I love you. May you be happy.

I love you. May you be healthy.

I love you. May you dwell in peace.

That got me thinking about the four traditional metta phrases.  Did anything exist like that in the Hawaiian culture?

The answer came to my mind immediately.  Not four individual phrases.  Only one:

Aloha i kekahi i kekahi.  Love one another.

Pops always says that’s the old Hawaiian way, the old Hawaiian greeting.  Aloha i kekahi i kekahi. Love to one another. Love to us all.

I explained this all to the poor soul who’d asked me. I’m sure I gave way more information than she was looking for. But it was good for me to think about.  And it was great to find a way to share that with another person.

Later, when I got home, I pulled out my favorite book, the Hawaiian Dictionary (Pukui & Elbert) and looked up the word compassion. I wanted to see what they wrote, to see how far off the mark I’d been.

And you know what the first Hawaiian word in the definition was?


A L O H A.

Right on.

Aloha i kekahi i kekahi.  Love one another.


Writer’s Sketchbook: Hula o Makee

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

jason poole, accidental hawaiian crooner, molokai, pilipo solatorio, anakala pilipo, halawa valley,


Writer’s Sketchbook – a peek inside my notebook of timed writings

10 minutes

August, 2008.  I am in Hālawa Valley with ‘Anakala Pillipo.  Here!  Me!  With him!  Amazing.  I want to learn music.  To really immerse myself in the sounds of Hawaiʻi.  No… more than that.  To immerse myself IN HAWAIʻI, herself.  The songs are wonderful—they calm me down when I listen to them.  And they’re fun to sing.  But I know I’ll never be able to REALLY sing them if I only parrot the sounds that I hear on the recordings.  I need to go deep.  It’s why I’m here.  And now we’re sitting on the front porch of his cabin in Hālawa Valley.

-Go get your ‘ukulele.  I think we should do some singing.

My heart almost jumps out of my mouth but gets stuck in my throat.  It’s time. It’s finally time to start.

-Do you know the song Hula O Makee?

I’m familiar with the song. I’ve heard it on the Hawaiian radio stations that I listen to at my desk.  I’ve heard it on some of the classic hula CDs in my collection.  I’m glad because I don’t have to say No.  I can at least strum along with him.

We play it in G—his key of choice for most songs.  I have a the “Blue Bible” of Hawaiian songs for us to use as a reference for lyrics.  He doesn’t look at the book.  My eyes dart from the page to his hands to his face.  I want to impress him more than anything. To show him I’m serious about this.  And to show him I can do it.  I can hold my own.

He sings his version of the song—not paying attention to the page.  He skips some of the printed verses.

-I sing it the way we always sang it.  Sometimes the book is different.  Different places sing the song in different ways.  (He says this after we make our way through the song 3 times)

I am grateful for the chance to sing with him, but I want to move on.  I don’t like this song.  It’s not a Molokai song and that’s what I was hoping for.  It’s not what I want to be doing for very long.

-Mahalo for this,  ‘Anakala.  Can we sing another song now?

-Why do you want to sing another song?  This is a good one.

-I was just thinking there are so many songs for us to look at.  How ‘bout a Molokai song?

-No.  This is a good one.  Hana hou.  Again.

We start the song again from the beginning.  I’m frustrated.  My arms are tight.  The valley suddenly seems noisy.  Too much sound.  Too many distractions.  Tunnel vision makes the white page seem dark, the words blur to a smudge.

We sing it again and again and again.  I’m going to lose my mind if I have to do it one more time.

-This will be your song to sing.  We’ll keep going with this one.

© 2014 Jason Poole, all rights reserved


Aloha, gang!

Here’s a video blog post to tell you about the big trip back to Molokai. The time has come! Uihā!

And please check out our other videos on our Youtube channel:



Aloha gang!  It’s time for another video blog!

This week I’ve decided to address something that’s been popping up all around me–HOʻOMANAWANUI.  Having patience.  It’s something I struggle with, for sure.  How ’bout you?

Happy Aloha Thursday!


Video Blog: Our Hawaiian Tī Plant is growing!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Aloha gang!  It’s time for another video blog!

I’m excited to introduce you to our latest addition to the family: the Hawaiian Tī Plant that’s growing in our apartment!

Happy Aloha Thursday!