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“Hawaiian views on nature are the subject of many songs and contain a true respect for nature. Many of the songs now openly express, if one understands the words, the language- Pain, revolution; itʻs expressing the emotional reaction the Hawaiians are feeling to the subversion of their lifestyle” - George Helm
Songs of Sovereignty
All Hawaiʻi Stand Together by Liko Martin
"All Hawai'i Stands Together" written by Liko Martin during the cultural re-invigoration of the 1970s, capture the profound relevance of lōkahi (unity), 'aloha 'āina (care of and connection to place) and kuleana (individual and collective responsibility) then and now.
Nanakuli Blues by Liko Martin and Thor Wold
Written in 1974 in response to the resort developments in Nānākuli, but when the band, Country Comfort, recorded the song on their debut album, We Are The Children, that same year, they changed the title to reflect their hometown; the song has been known as “Waimanalo Blues” ever since.
Hawaiʻi '78 by Makaha Sons of Niʻihau
Originally composed by Makaha Sons of Niʻihau 1978, with original member of Makaha Sons of Niʻihau, Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole recording his own rendition in 1993. Written in the height of the Hawaiian renaissance, this song pushes back on gentrification in Hawaiʻi by reflecting on our Hawaiian Monarchy.
He Hawaiʻi Au by Sunday Mānoa
Written in 1988 by Ron Rocha, Alice Namakelua, and Peter Moon, this song reminds that Hawaiʻi is in the heart of all Hawaiians and to always remember who they are.
Hawaiian Eyes by Sudden Rush
Originally composed in 1993 by Jon Osorio and Randy Borden. This 2002 Hawaiian rap rendition by group Sudden Rush from the album EA, is a tribute to the Hawaiian musicians whom passed and left a legacy for Hawaiian unity in music.
Huki ʻIa by ʻAi Pōhaku
Written by Pila Wilson, Iota Cabral, Kīhei Nahale-a and composed by Kamakoa Linsey-Asing, Ekona Ravey, and Kīhei Nahale-a. This reggae song was written as a "mele kūʻē" or a resistance song after listening to a Hawaiian language tape by Kakaʻe Kaleiheana expressing her sorrow for seeing the American Flag flying over the rightful Hawaiian Flag. This ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi song encourages us to raise our rightful flag and as a people in resistance.
Kuʻu Home o Kahaluʻu by Olomana
From their album, "Like a Seabird in the Wind", released in 1976, addresses the changes that urbanization brought, not only to the rural terrain, but to rural ways of life as well. Loss of innocence was the human equivalent of nature's retreat before the city sprawl with the relationship between the land and the child.
E Ala E by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole
Released in 1995, this song calls for Hawaiians to "ala", to rise up, to wake up for justice of the Hawaiian nation and race and to defend our right for sovereignty.
Hawaiian Soul by Jon Osorio and Randy Borden
Recorded in 1993, this song was written in the late 1970s, as a tribute to the aloha ʻāina, George Helm whom disappeared at sea in this fight to stop the bombing of Kahoʻolawe by the US Navy.
E Malama i ka Wai by Olomana
Composed by Jerry Santos and recorded in 1991, "E Malama i ka Wai" was recorded in support of the Hawaiians in the water struggle happening in Waiāhole and Waiākane.
Hawaiian Lands by Bruddah Waltah & Island Afternoon
Written in 1985 and released in 2007, this reggae song sings to "keep Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands", a call for Hawaiians to stand up for their rights and to stop the displacement of Hawaiians from their land.
Look What Theyʻve Done by Brother Noland
Recorded in 1980, from the first album of Brother Noland, "Speaking Brown", this mele speaks of gentrification of foreigners in Hawaiʻi and the drastic changes it has on Hawaiians.
Couldnʻt Take the Mana by Mana Kaleilani Caceres
Recorded in 2001, this reggae song talks about the injustices that have happened to the Hawaiian people but with all that has been done it is the mana of the Hawaiian people that keeps us going.
EA by Sudden Rush
Released in 2002, this mele pāleoleo, rap song, covers the struggles of being a modern Hawaiian in the fight for Ea from governmental policies that serve injustices to Hawaiian people.
Throughout these radical movements and the Hawaiian Renaissance, the themes of what was Hawaiian music began to change. Born were these mele kūʻē, or resistance songs rallied for our ancestral homelands and for the autonomy of our existence. These songs helped to shape the narrative of how Hawaiians protest and often were used not just for one movement but many and are still commonly a part of current struggles. This is not a comprehensive list, many of these artists composed many songs, whole albums even, that allied with their lāhui fighting in the battle for ea.
The Geographic Imaginary in Hawaiian Music Culture by
Call Number: CB5 .H3 no.3180
Publication Date: 2004
This thesis examines a select and limited corpus of place-specific music, mele pana, composed for Hilo, Hawaiʻi. After a brief history of Hilo and Hawaiian Music Culture, the corpus is introduced with information about the lyricists, musicians, and circumstances surrounding each composition. Addresses concepts of place-making and identity, symbolic resistance, and celebrating survival as they concern issues of the Native Hawaiian's loss of land, culture, and identity brought about by Western hegemony, colonization and imperialism. Available online via ScholarSpace.
Nahenahe (Soft, Sweet, Melodious): Sounding Out Native Hawaiian Self-Determination by
Publication Date: 2019
Explores the ways in which kī hō‘alu (Hawaiian slack key guitarists) articulated Native Hawaiian aspirations for self-determination and reterritorialization during the Second Hawaiian Renaissance. The connections between music and political activism were highlighted and strengthened throughout the period. Indeed, although numerous political groups organized throughout the period, providing the modern foundations to the struggles for sovereignty today, at the forefront of it all were the musicians. Available online via Cambridge University Press Journals & Music Periodicals Database.
Style in Revolt Music, Social Protest, and the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance by
Publication Date: 1987
An analysis of the role of popular music in an ongoing social protest movement that is an important and focal concern of the people of Hawaii, known as the "Hawaiian Renaissance." In the analysis, which treats music as symbolic communication, use is made of Raymond Williams's classification of ideologies as dominant, residual, emergent, oppositional, or alternative. Using historical data, participant observation, interviews, and content analysis of the music, the author considers not only song lyrics, but also (and perhaps more importantly) styles of performance, melodies, types of instruments, and performer presence and dress, to see how, together, they make up a "style in revolt" against the dominant, mainland-derived ideology and culture of the islands. Available online via JSTOR and Periodicals Archive Online Collection.
Lewis, George H. "Style in Revolt Music, Social Protest, and the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance." International Social Science Review 62, no. 4 (1987): 172. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41881768.