KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii Island musician Kalani Pe’a has many memories growing up on the east side of the island, an area that has been affected by the ongoing Kilauea volcanic eruption.
“My bloodline, my family comes from Kalapana,” Pe’a said. “I am indebted to the people of Puna. I attended Ke Kula ‘o Nawahiokalani‘opu‘u, a Hawaiian language immersion school, which is 15 to 20 minutes from the lava flow. … I’m a proud alumni of that school. My sister is a teacher there, all four of us (siblings) are graduates. So the Pe’a line is really strong with all the wonderful, well-known families of Kalapana. We are the OGs of Kalapana. We saw everything that unfolded through the flow.”
In order to help the Puna area, Pe’a will be performing at the Aloha Puna benefit concert. The concert, featuring several Na Hoku Hanohano Award winners, will be 7 p.m. July 21, at the Tommy Bahama Courtyard at the The Shops at Mauna Lani in South Kohala. Proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Salvation Army to benefit those affected by the eruption.
Though he now resides on Maui, Pe’a’s family are still residents of Hawaii Island. Pe’a said his father and sister are close to the current lava flow, and his grandmother lives in Hilo, although they have not been affected other than by the vog.
“I want to support the cause. Because my family comes from Puna, and my great grandparents come from Kalapana, I have to,” Pe’a said. “I’m indebted to supporting the community there. I want to sing my heart out as a Grammy and Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning artist, as a representative of the Big Island. I have to.”
Pe’a said at the benefit concert he plans to sing songs from his debut album, “E Walea,” as well as some classic Hawaiian hits. He said he may perform a surprise number from his upcoming sophomore album, “No ‘Ane’i,” which will be released Aug. 10.
Also sharing the stage with Pe’a will be Waimea’s Kukahi and his band L.O.V.E Machine, as well as Jon Osorio, Duncan Kamakana Osorio and Jamaica Osorio.
“When I hear the word benefit, when I hear the word displaced, when I hear the word tragic, that hits the heart,” Pe’a said. “It hits the heart of many, because we don’t want to be left homeless, we don’t want to hear our loved ones are hurt, displaced, disheartened, whatever words you want to use that pertain to tragedy.”
Pe’a said he doesn’t want to associate the eruption or the effort to help those affected as with the word “disaster.” He said focusing on rebuilding the communities in Puna is a more proactive response to the lava flow, and the eruption is just Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes, doing her duty to create more land.
“We have to understand that it’s part of our movement as Hawaiian people and people living on the island. When there’s rain, storms, typhoons, it’s just the way it is,” Pe’a said. “It’s what we have to live in, and we have to accept that. We have to accept that our earth shakes, and that our earth moves.”
Pe’a remembers his childhood exploring black sand beaches in Puna and visiting Champagne Pond, which has now been erased from the map by the lava flow.
“To me, it’s a special place, because of the connection of Pele to that area, and my connection to my kupuna and ancestors before Champagne Pond was built,” Pe’a said. “Before mansions were built, my grandparents walked the black sands, and I have to give back.”
Info: Tickets for the Aloha Puna benefit concert are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/aloha-puna-benefit-concert-tickets-47511676704? aff=ebdssbdestsearch. Each ticket will include a Tommy Bahama dinner entree and two drinks.