Many times musical groups seem to stray from their foundation as they try to adapt to the new generations ahead of them, but for Olomana, a musical centerpiece since 1973 in Hawaii, it has been its philosophy of looking backward that allows it to move forward.
“There is always a creation of new music and perpetuating the kind of music we grew up with. We (Olomana) pay a lot of attention to the traditional kinds of sounds from the past, and try to build and expand upon that,” says Olomana member Jerry Santos. Olomana continues to blend contemporary and traditional Hawaiian music, creating and singing songs that uphold the values deeply rooted in the land, people and culture of Hawaii.
“We play our own music with special emphasis given to Hawaiian language music that has withstood the test of time,” Santos adds.
Since appearing on MidWeek‘s cover in 1991, Olomana - Wally Suenaga, Haunani Apoliona, Santos and Willy Paikuli (not pictured above) - has called Hilton Hawaiian Village home, continuing to entertain kamaaina and visitors each Friday and Saturday. “It is comforting having that regular place to perform, the longevity means that people know where to find us even when they just come back to town,” says Santos.
Each member of Olomana would like to dedicate more time to recording, but obligations and occupations set limits on how often they get together as a group. Suenaga has recently retired from working as a pilot and flight school operator. Apoliona continues to work as chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Santos, whose full-time interest and life’s work is music, continues to play as a soloist and with other friends, with regular engagements at Chai’s Island Bistro.
Olomana is excited to perform at Saturday’s Windward Ho’olaule’a at Windward Community College with many of their musical friends, including Sean Naauao, Teresa Bright and Holunape.
“The Windward Ho’olaule’a provides an opportunity to celebrate Kaneohe - the songs, stories and memories that we have growing up here. We like to say the ua and the pua is the sweetest there,” says Santos. For more information, call 235-7466 or visit windward.hawaii.edu/hoolaulea.
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