Ancient Hula Hawaiian Style
Nearly a dozen vintage recordings of mele (songs or chants) for ancient hula have been resurrected, remastered and compiled on a new album, Ancient Hula Hawaiian Style, Volume 1: Hula Kuahu.
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Among the other chanters featured on this album are Iolani Luahine, a kumu hula who was one of the foremost teachers and dancers of ancient hula; James Kaupena Wong, a renowned chanter, composer and songwriter; and hula master Joseph Kamohai Kahaulelio. “There is nothing better than hearing the authentic voices of our treasured hula elders,” says Loo-Ching. “It’s one thing to read about Auntie Lokalia Montgomery and her stern ways, or see photos of Auntie Iolani Luahine dancing, but to hear their actual voices sharing the sacred chants of old is priceless. It really takes your breath away.”
Compiling these cultural treasures into a single album not only saves them from being lost forever; it also helps them reach a much larger audience. “I know many of those records, and I have most of them in my collection and yet I’ve never been able to prominently feature them because I didn’t have a venue like the one Amy has put together,” says Soria. “This album is the perfect way to display this music.”
For Stillman, putting together an album of what are essentially the greatest hits of ancient hula was a priceless project, and one she hopes will provide today’s hula students with new insights into these ancient mele. “This repertoire is at the heart of the hula tradition,” says Stillman. “These are the voices of people who are revered among kumu hula, so to bring together the repertoire and the voices and to put them all together in one package ensures they’re now accessible again. Some of these chants are taught often and commonly performed. There are many students out there who have learned the dances. For them, the value of this is going to be hearing the voices of teachers that predate their own teachers by one or two generations. It’s a way of reaching the past, touching the past. It’s time travel—sonic time travel.”
Contributing writer Jenny Quill recently ate her way through Kapolei for the “Exploring Kapolei” feature in our July issue.
|Ancient Hula Hawaiian Style, Volume 1: Hula Kuahu is in stores now, and is also available for purchase online through the iTunes Store, as well as Cord International/Hana Ola Records, cordinternational.com.|