Maunalua - Ho’okanaka

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - October 12, 2007
Maunalua - Ho'okanaka
Maunalua - Ho’okanaka


The 411

As Bobby Moderow Jr.,Bruce Spencer and Kahi Kaonohi of Maunalua blow out the 11 candles on their anniversary cake, they also celebrate the release of their third album, Ho’okanaka.

“Ho’okanaka means this isn’t a time to fall down, to stand and be strong. So for us the translation is to stand and be steadfast for our culture,” says Moderow. “We have to stand strong through the mele.”

Released this month, Ho’okanaka embodies Maunalua’s signature style of taking classical Hawaiian music and making it their own. The album also blends a prelude written by Moderow, and an original track, Endless Miles, which is a song about finding that elusive Hawaii.

With the energy from their first album and the refinement of their second, this album features a compilation of the most frequently requested songs they’ve been playing for the past years.

“Hawaii picked these songs, we didn’t pick the songs,“says Moderow,a Kalani High School grad.

Besides successes that include Na Hoku Hanohano awards for Best Hawaiian Album of the Year, Group of the Year and Favorite Entertainer of the Year, Maunalua says its their 11 years together as a band they are most proud of.

“Maunalua is not an I or a me thing - it’s a marriage,” says Moderow. “It’s about communication and understanding, and it’s just been amazing working with these guys over the years.”

As what makes Maunalua unique?

Moderow explains it well, saying, “In music there’s a fine line you can walk with professionalism and having a good time. And I’d like to think we walk this fine line where we’re very professional, but above and beyond we are very approachable, fun-loving guys.”

For a complete listing of their upcoming performances or to find out more about the band, visit

Bruce Spencer, Bobby Moderow Jr. and Kahi Kaonohi
Bruce Spencer, Bobby Moderow Jr. and Kahi Kaonohi



Who is your biggest fan?

Kahi: My family and my friends - I hope.

Bruce: I would say Ke Akua, that’s pretty simple.

Bobby: It would be a tie between my daughters, my wife and my dad.

What do you love most about traditional Hawaiian music?

Bruce: The music we aim to perpetuate is a timeless gift from our kupuna and all the artists who have come before us. We try to perform each song with this in mind, and at the same time pass it down to the next generations, therefore continuing the legacy that they started.

Kahi: Hawaiian songs in the old days were written mostly about love - and like any love song ever written the meanings and words come straight from the heart, and that shows how passionate this person was at the time he wrote it. Hawaiian music, to me, just has a lot of heart and soul poured into the music and lyrics.

What song do you think you’ve listened to the most times in your life?

Bruce: In A Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly.It’s,like,from the ‘70s,and Iron Butterfly is one of my all-time favorite groups.

Bobby: The song that I always go back to is Nani Hanalei.

When did you realize or discover that you had musical talent?

Bobby: I never really realized it; I had other people tell me. Way back when I was in the fifth grade, I was sent home with an application for this new choir that they were forming at the time called the Honolulu Boy Choir. There was a note on it from my teacher saying “please review this because Robert needs an outlet because he’s been singing in class.” So that was my first introduction to music.

Bruce: Well, actually that’s an ongoing process.I don’t like to think of it more than a learning process, and this probably will go on forever because I never feel like I can learn enough.

What is your fondest musical memory?

Bobby: What turned me on to all of this is when I was in the seventh grade, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go to this concert at Iolani Palace. So we go to McDonald’s and get food and go down on the bus.Right on the stairs they have a concert with the original Olomana and the original Makaha Sons of Niihau. We went there, and we walked in looking for a place to sit, and a big Hawaiian man looks over and goes,“Eh, who you kids here with?“And we were like, “Nobody, we just came on the bus.” And he had a whole bunch of kids and his wife, and he tell us to sit with them. We sat with them and ate their food; he watched over us. It showed me that this music is more than music. Me, this white boy, he tells me to come sit down with his family. Immediately I knew that I wanted to be a part of this.

Kahi: Winning the first Hoku award. As an aspiring musician in Hawaii, the Hoku awards is something you dream of because these musicians you see on TV are the people you idolize, and just being there with these talented musicians is awesome. Then you win a Hoku award - man, that feeling is just out of this world and humbling.


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Most Recent Comment(s):

Great interview of Maunalua.
Hey Kahi, I’m a fan of your falsetto singing also.
Bobby, you got to play more slack key brah.
Bruce, I want uku lessons.

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