In a culture that honors the legacies of the past, this Hawaiian trio of talented musicians pays homage to their roots while creating a unique and progressive sound that leaves their mark in contemporary Hawaiian music.
In a seamless, continuous movement, we all carry a past while living in the present and moving toward a future. Hi’ikua’s music reflects the belief that without asking, the knowledge of our ancestors has already been placed within us in the hope that we will shoulder this responsibility in an unbroken journey into the future.
This worldview is the essence of Hi‘ikua’s music, which is either composed or performed by Kalehua Krug, Kamuela Kimokeo and Blake Leoki-Haili. The group’s name derives from the Hawaiian word that means literally “to carry on one’s back.” Hi‘ikua accepts this responsibility and intends with each song to achieve that goal: to speak of their history in words and music; to enjoy each moment of that expression, and in sharing this with you, to hope that their message will find its way into the future.
Aia I Hi‘ialo, the long awaited debut CD by Hi‘ikua featuring 6 original songs and traditional favorites, is set for release in 2011.
“E hi‘ikua mai a…e hi‘ialo aku.” This was a phrase heard on occasion from an elder to a young one simply saying, “Come, carry me on your back (learn my ways) and soon you will be able to carry me in your arms (take my knowledge forward)”. In this collection of mele, you will be reminded of the story of Kalapana and his intellect in riddles, which helped him defeat a tyrannical chief. You will also hear songs that help us understand the significance of our three piko, one that brings knowledge from those of the past (Tūtū Aloha), one that shares love from those of the present (Ku‘u Hoa Hi‘ikua) and one that links us to our kamali‘i who will brave the future and continue our stories (Kū Mai Ka Hali‘a). As you listen to the sweet yet stirring falsetto voices of this trio, Hi‘ikua, consisting of Kalehua Krug, Kamuela Kimokeo and Blake Leoiki-Haili, remember the influences of your ‘ohana and realize that you have “blossomed in their footsteps” and you are ready to carry and pass on what you have learned.”
The music on “Aia I Hi‘ialo” reflects the fond memories of Hi‘ikua’s parents and grandparents, the things that they taught (us), and the messages that they shared. These memories are often the source of inspiration for mele that are written to help remember important life lessons.
This is why Hi’ikua came to be and how they have chosen to honor those who have come before us.
He and his wife Kihapai have 3 children. Kalehua works at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the college of Education and Hawaiian Studies. He is working on quite a few programs to give more opportunities to those who want to learn the Hawaiian language. One project he coordinates is having free Hawaiian language classes every Friday for both children and adults. Very soon he will be completing his PhD in education.
Musically, his grasp of Hawaiian language allows him to compose some beautiful songs. On Hi‘ikua’s new album “Aia i Hi‘ialo” he composed 5 of the 6 original songs that are featured, including "Ku'u Hoa Hi'ikua" which he won the Hoku Award for Haku Mele (composition). As a lyricist, he has worked with Amy Hānaiali‘i Gilliom on her latest 2 recordings. On the album Friends and Family, Amy did a duet with Keali‘i Reichel for the song Pā aheahe. The lyrics were written by Kalehua Krug and this Song was nominated for the Hōkū Award's "Song of the Year" Category. Kalehua is often told that his falsetto is reminiscent of Dennis Pavao.
Kamuela and his wife Roxy have two sons. He currently is working for the University of Hawai’i as a music instructor. He teaches, Beginning and intermediate Ukulele, Beginning and intermediate Slack Key, Hawaiian ensemble and composition. He is also a PhD student at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and is near completion. For the last two years he has helped to create a Hawaiian music curriculum for The Boy’s and Girl’s club of Nānākuli. It is focused on exposing our young ones to Hawaiian music at a young age in order to help them to 1. Have a better sense of their identity as Hawaiians. 2. To take pride in their music. 3. To familiarize them with Hawaiian music so that it will not be foreign to them when they are older.
As far as his music goes, he has his Bachelors degree in Music with a minor in Hawaiian Studies. He completed his Masters Degree in Education in 2010. His research was focused on looking at the functionality of Hawaiian Music and how it is not just something used for entertainment but as a way to influence people. He has had the opportunity to play music with and be mentored by many of Hawai‘i's legends in Hawaiian music, including, Ledward Ka‘apana, Jerry Santos, Genoa Keawe, Dennis Kamakahi, etc. His main influence musically has been his father Kimo and Larry Reis who were students of Kahauanu Lake and made up the group Kahali'a that entertained at the Hawaiian Regent/ Waikīkī Beach Marriott for 20 years. In 2009, Kamuela was featured on the Grammy Nominated and Nā Hōkū Award Winning album "Slack Key Kings Vol. II" with an original slack key song entitled Holomoana. On Hi‘ikua’s new album, he wrote one
Blake currently lives in Kahalu‘u with his wife Juliana and has one son. He is the youngest member of the group by one day (Kamuela was born one day before him). He currently is a sheet metal foreman for Heidi & Cook and has done various projects through out the state. If he is not working or playing music, it is almost a sure bet that you will find him somewhere in the ocean. For this reason he is the hardest person in the group to get a hold of.
Musically, Blake started at a young age. While attending King Intermediate in Kāne'ohe, Blake and Kamuela became fast friends. Blake often went to play music with Kamuela’s dad, Kimo at the Hawaiian Regent later known as the Waikīkī Beach Marriott. Because of this, Blake was greatly influenced by Kamuela’s father to love the music of the Kahauanu Lake Trio as well as the music of George Helm. Blake’s voice is very versatile as he is able to sing songs that span different genres.