A group of island musicians attend a pre-Grammy Award event. ©Jennifer Whalen
The lead-up to Mele Mei started in earnest in Los Angeles when a contingent of Hawai‘i artists were invited to unveil, “We Are Friends: A Lifetime Party of ’70s Music,” during a pre-Grammy Award event. The occasion marked the second consecutive year that the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts has partnered with the Grammy Museum to curate an exhibit focused on Hawaiian music.
“Hawai‘i’s music today is universal, inspired by great American artists of our time,” says Henry Kapono, who was joined on stage by legendary artists Malani Bilyeu, Gaylord Holomalia, Johnny Valentine, Alx Kawakami, Blayne Asing and 2017 Grammy winner Kalani Pe‘a at the Grammy Museum. “The beautiful thing about it is the music is getting back to melody and the heart. There's a rumble starting up again with guys like Blayne Asing and Alx Kawakami and others who have their roots deeply grounded here in the Islands, but dream beyond the reef. It's exciting.”
Now in its eighth year, Mele Mei features an expanded lineup of culturally rich, Hawaiian music performances and concerts statewide. More than 70 events are scheduled, featuring globally-recognized musicians — including multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning and Grammy-nominated artists — who will perform at various venues around Hawai‘i, Los Angeles and throughout Japan.
“The idea was to support musicians and artists, and to form a united front. This is a music and hula-driven event,” says Pali Ka’aihue, Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts president and co-creator of Mele Mei. “We have about 9,800 participants and half were from out of state, and of that half, about half came from Japan so we’re spreading Hawaiian music beyond Hawaii.”
Highlights of Mele Mei 2017 include the 40th Anniversary Nā Hōkū Hanohano 2017 Music Festival on April 16, in Maihama, Japan; Mele Mei Hotel Concert Series held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort Kani Ka Pila Grille, Halekulani and Hyatt Regency Waikiki; 37th Annual Pan Pacific Festival’s Matsuri in Hawai‘i and Hō‘ike Lanakila 2017 Festival across Japan. It all culminates with the highly anticipated 40th Annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards ceremony and dinner show on Saturday, May 20 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.
A partial list of Mele Mei’s 2017 schedule of events includes:
Sunday, April 16: Nā Hōkū Hanohano Festival (Maihama Theatre)
Mele Mei will celebrate the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards in Japan with the 3rd Annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano Music Festival on Sunday, April 16, 2017 at the Maihama Amphitheater within the Tokyo Disney Resort.
June 18 - 24: Hō‘ike Lanakila (Sapporo, Osaka, Nagoya, Nigata, Tokyo)
The last event of Mele Mei 2017 goes to Japan! Hō‘ike Lanakila features a concert series of Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning artists, hula hālau and their nā kumu.
Monday, May 1: Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame – Lei of Stars (Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa)
Join us for brunch and a concert honoring some of the best in hula and Hawaiian music. The Lei of Stars gathering will recognize the 2017 Hall of Fame inductees to be held at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa.
Saturday – Sunday, May 6 – May 7: Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival (Frank Fasi Municipal Grounds)
Join us for the 12th Annual Hawai‘i Book and Music Festival taking place Saturday through Sunday, May 6 – May 7 in Downtown Honolulu. The festival will feature more than 30 panels centered on Native Hawaiian culture, health and living in Hawai‘i, astronomy and more! Admission and parking are free to the public.
Sunday, May 7, 14, 21 & 28: Mele Mei at Halekulani (House Without a Key)
Tune up your Sunday with a brunch concert at Halekulani’s House Without a Key featuring special performances every Sunday throughout the month of May. No reservations required.
Sunday, May 7, 14, 21 & 28; 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Outrigger Kani Ka Pila Grille Mele Mei Concert Series (Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort)
Celebrate contemporary Hawaiian music under the stars from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. Experience the special sounds and unique cultural traditions of Hawai‘i at Kani Ka Pila Grille at Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Call (808) 924–4990 for more information.
Saturday, May 20: 40th Annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards (Hawai‘i Convention Center)
The Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts’ 40th Annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards ceremony and dinner show will take place Saturday, May 20 to honor entertainers’ achievements of excellence in the recording arts. Tickets are available for purchase at the HARA office or by calling (808) 593-9424!
Sunday, May 21: Hō‘ike Lanakila (Hawai’i Convention Center)
This new event features a concert series of Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning artists, hula hālau and their nā kumu.
Friday, June 9: Pan Pacific Festival (Kalākaua Avenue)
Gather for a celebration to preserve friendship and goodwill. The ho‘olaulea will feature cultural exhibitions as well as talent from across the Pacific Rim including performances by Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning artists and nominees, on the Nā Hōkū Hanohano stage. Events include a custom hula festival ending in a super-sized parade featuring colorful performers, dancers, high school marching bands and ethnic cultural groups from around the world. Join in on the fun at one of Hawai‘i’s largest outdoor multi-cultural exhibits in Waikiki.
Additional events may be added at a later date. Visit www.melemei.com for further details, as well as an up-to-date schedule of events.