Kupaoa At Kamehameha Ho’olaule’a

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - February 23, 2011
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Lihau and Kellen Paik of Kupaoa

When I interviewed Kellen and Lihau of Kupaoa last year, they were called Kellen Paik and Lihau Hannahs.

This time I spoke to Mr. and Mrs. Kellen Paik.

Yes, this music duo not only shares the stage, but also shared vows in August of last year.


The couple recently celebrated the release of their sophomore album, English Rose, following the success of their 2008 debut release Pili O Ke Ao, which was nominated for four Na Hoku Hanohano awards. They were honored with the award for Most Promising Artist of the Year and the Haku Mele Award.

“Kellen and I do music full time,” says Lihau, who has a bachelor’s in Hawaiian studies and marketing, a JD and MBA, and passed the Hawaii State Bar exam.

“We’ve been really busy. We just finished a couple of shows at Hawaii Theatre.”

Kellen received a bachelor’s in Hawaiian language in 2003 and after a short hiatus from school, he returned for a master’s in Hawaiian language, which he completed in 2009.

Album No. 3 is on its way, and they anticipate a release sometime early next year.

“Right now we’re just arranging,” says Kellen, a Kapaa High grad. “It takes a lot of time for me to arrange all the music, and then a lot of rehearsing before we even think of booking studio dates.”

The Kamehameha Children’s Chorus performs at the school’s annual ho‘olaule‘a

Lihau adds, “For this next album, we’re thinking of doing something a little different. So this time we’re going to take our time with it and work on it as we go along.”

For some, including myself, the idea of working, living and playing with your significant other sounds dreadful, but the Paiks agree that they are really lucky because it works for them.

“I think it’s probably harder for the other groups and their families because the life of a musician involves late nights and touring,” says Kellen.

“For us, when we’re busy, we’re busy together and we still see each other all the time,” adds Lihau. “And the commitment we have to each other on a personal level is the foundation of how our group works.”

The two laugh when I ask if they each have specific duties or roles within the group.

“The lines are always crossed,” says Lihau. “But in general, Kellen is much more musically gifted than I am and so he really puts a lot of time in arranging the music. I do a lot of the paperwork and numbers. As far as decisions go, as far as things like taking a gig, we make all those decisions together.”

Together they’ll take the stage as Kupaoa this Saturday (Feb. 26) at Kani Ka Pila Grille from 6 to 9 p.m. And earlier that day they’ll be on the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama campus Konia Field to perform at its 81st annual ho’olaule’a.

The entertainment lineup also includes Melveen Leed, Kolohe Kai, Kapala and Na Wai as well as the talented students of Kamehameha.

“This is our first year performing at ho’olaule’a and I’m really looking forward to it because, for me, I remember when I was in school and would see the bands performing,” says Lihau, a 1995 KS graduate. “It is kind of a milestone in my life to return to Kamehameha as a professional musician to share my music there.”

This year’s event, themed E Holomua Kakou (Let Us Move Forward Together), begins with an oli and pule at 8:30 a.m. and wraps up at 4 p.m.

In addition to the entertainment at center stage, there are also food booths, crafts, plants, Xtreme fun rides, a country store, a silent auction, games and prizes.

Food booths offer Hawaiian plates, fried saimin, fruit smoothies, salads, cotton candy, Korean plate, ice cream and more. And the Neighbor Island booths will have specialties such as Kauai kulolo, pastele, Molokai bread, fried fish plate, Kona coffee and Bruddah pops, just to name a few.

At 9 a.m., join the Hawaiian language honors students in Smith Courtyard as they teach ku’i kalo (poi pounding). At 1 p.m., enjoy a free screening of the film One Voice in the auditorium. The film, directed by Lisette Flanary, documents the story of the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest through the eyes of the student song leaders.

“The ho’olaule’a is an awesome event that has great local music, good food and fun activities for families,” adds Lihau. “And of course it’s a great way to show support to Kamehameha Schools.”

Free parking is available on campus, at Damien School, Kapalama Elementary School and Honolulu Community College. Free shuttles are available from HCC. For more information, visit parents.ksbe.edu.

Kupaoa takes the stage at around 11 a.m. A Hawaiian plate lunch on the lawn with music provided by the newlyweds sounds like a good time to me. See you there!

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