Kekuhi Kanahele


Kekuhi’s roots delve deeply into the ground of Hawaiian history and culture. Raised in Keaukaha where she spent most of her early years with her maternal grandparents, Edith Kekuhi Kanaele Kenao of Kohala/Puna and Luka Kanaka`ole of Kapapala, Ka`u and numerous cousins, aunts, uncles and occasional hanai, Kekuhi is the eldest of 3 children born to Pualani Kanaka`ole and Edward Huihui Kanahele.

Kekuhi`s earliest training in hula and oral arts began at the age of 7, like her mother before her, her grandmother before her and her great-grandmother before that. Hula and chant is the piko or the center of all of Kekuhi`s present activities. Kekuhi has been exposed to the performance stage as a practitioner of hula and chant for many years. However, her most recent singing career came about quite accidentally and without preconception. Kekuhi credits this new path to the work of her kupuna because they like to keep her functionally and constantly busy.

Her debut recording, “Hahani Mai”, was released in November, 1996, and she now follows it up with her second release “Kekuhi”. Her music reflects her lifestyle. The same chant styling that she was taught as a chant student under her grandmother, mother and aunt are very evident in her music. Kekuhi claims, “It’s what I know how to do, it’s what I’ve heard all my life. My voice doesn’t know to do anything else I guess.” Coupled with her husband’s traditional compositions full of imagery and metaphor, the music emotes deep cultural themes in sound, feel, thought and poetry.

Aside from her music, Kekuhi graduated from the University of Hawai`i at Hilo in 1995 after which she continued her education at Heritage College from whom she received her M.Ed. in Professional Development in 1997. She would like to pursue a Doctoral program in the near future. Kekuhi is an instructor of Hawaiian Studies at Hawai`i Community College. She is also the Acting Coordinator at Halau Na`auao, Native Hawaiian Community Based Education Learning Center at Hawai`i Community College. A wife and mother, she lives with her husband and 3 sons in Pana`ewa.