Mana - I Be Hawaiian

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - April 27, 2007

“They took the land, they took aloha, they took the queen even though they didn’t know her ... but they couldn’t take the mana” - Couldn’t Take The Mana.

That’s right, Mana Kaleilani Caceres, the singer, songwriter and composer of this Hawaii anthem that had everyone singing along, is back again with his second CD, I Be Hawaiian.

“After I was all done in the studio with my first CD, I realized that I still had enough original material to record 10 more CDs,” says the Kapolei resident. “I don’t really consider myself one of the best vocalists out there (don’t get me wrong: I love my voice and I hope you do too), but what I do think of myself is as a songwriter who sings.”

Mana describes his new CD, which features 15 tracks, as “indescribable,” covering topics like homelessness, sovereignty, the war in Iraq and the ice epidemic. The new CD is a powerful, lyrical ride that he says is sure to raise some eyebrows. It stays true to his beliefs and successfully carries his messages into the lives and hearts of listeners.

After his first CD, which released in 2001, Mana decided to take a short break from recording to spend more time with his wife, Kalehua, and his three children. Now that his youngest daughter is 4 years old, Mana is ready to embark on another lyrical and musical journey.

“I want to keep writing songs with meaning and keep it real,” says the 30-year-old,“just keep writing conscious lyrics to bumping music so people can learn things they perhaps did not know before.”

Coming up for Mana is a CD Release Concert Series beginning May 19 at Che Monique. For more info about Mana’s upcoming gigs or to learn more about this Polynesian talent, visit

Q’n A

Who can always put you in a good mood?

My kids and my family. Like the words to my song Be Alright,“my family keeps me on solid ground, nothing can ever keep me down.”

What local celebrity would you like to spend the day with?

I know it’s too late, but my only answer would be the late Don Ho. To be loved by so many people from all over the world, and to be able to do what he loved for so many years, he obviously knew the secret of success.

What food can you never turn away?

Pizza and spicy tuna sushi. Even if I just walked out of a buffet, there’s always room for pizza or spicy tuna.

What’s the best part about being you?

Being able to do what I love, get my messages across while doing it. It’s also cool to walk around six years after my first CD came out and people still sing the line “they took the land, they took aloha” when they see me around.

How do you measure success?

I can tell you that I don’t measure success in the amount of money in my bank accounts or the number of CDs sold. Whether it’s two CDs or 2 million CDs - it’s a measure of how many people heard my message. A couple of months after my first CD was released I was visiting my family in Waianae and was walking past the playground in the low-income housing when one of the kids there recognized me from my music video and pointed me out to the other children. All 20 of the kids started singing all the words to Couldn’t Take The Mana and tears started to well up in my eyes. That moment was how I measured my first CD as a total success.

What country would you like to visit?

Spain. My last name is Spanish and I’d love to see where some of my ancestors come from.

What’s the best dish that you can cook?

Rice. I cook a mean pot of rice. My kids like my chicken katsu. And my cousins drop ingredients off at my house so I can make them my signature Mana Pie, which is a purple sweet potato pie on a homemade graham cracker crust and topped with a firm layer of haupia. Broke da mouth.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I like to make people laugh. I have a secret desire to do comedy in some form or another.

What’s the worst job that you ever had?

Back in college at UH-Hilo I worked as a file clerk for the financial aid office and used to spend four hours a day in a closet shredding old files. To pass the time I used to sing songs about my beloved shredder machine.

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