Sisters teach music tonight in Puhi

There might be more than one twist associated with the event today at 6 p.m. at the Island School main hall during the E Kanikapila Kakou presentation of Garden Island Arts Council leaders.

Dubbed “Hawaiian music with a twist,” the program features noted musicians from Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i teaching people their music for the first portion of the evening (the first twist), then all performing together in the second part.

The additional twists tonight will be those of participants’ hips brought on by talented presenters Dr. Ku Kahakalau and sister Sistah Robi Kahakalau, event presenters said in a press release.

This year marks the 23rd season of E Kanikapila Kakou (“Let’s Play Stringed Instruments”), with its theme “Musical ‘Ohana” making a hana hou (encore) from last year.

EKK is a grassroots Hawaiian music program of the Garden Island Arts Council.

Dr. Ku Kahakalau is a Native Hawaiian composer and songwriter residing with her family in Kukuihaele on the Big Island.

Inspired by the magnificence of nature around her, especially nearby Waipi‘o Valley, she has composed numerous songs praising the beauty of Hawai‘i.

A fluent speaker of Hawaiian, her compositions reflect traditional songwriting techniques, and incorporate ancient metaphors used for thousands of years by Hawaiian poets.

Ku Kahakalau is also an educator, researcher and community activist, leading the Hawaiian-focused, charter-school movement, which currently serves over 1,500 Native Hawaiian students on three islands including Kaua‘i.

As founder and director of Kanu o ka ‘Aina New Century Public Charter School, she believes in education with aloha, and is working hard to establish a parallel system of Hawaiian education that is community- based, family-oriented and culturally-driven.

“Ku is the ‘ukulele player, and I’ll be ‘doing’ what I can on the guitar,” jokes Sistah Robi Kahakalau.

Described by one music writer as “one of the most gifted songbirds we know,” Sistah Robi Kahakalau is a third-generation Hawaiian musician.

The sisters’ grandfather moved to Boston in the early 20th century, and taught ‘ukelele and guitar there.

Their father, a brilliant jazz bassist, played with Stan Getz, Benny Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey, under a pseudonym, Bob Carter.

Sistah Robi Kahakalau was born in Germany, and lived there for her first 18 years.

“When I heard Makaha Sons and Olomana in Germany, I was just blown away,” she says. “I said ‘OK! That’s my kind of music.’” In 1980, she came to Hawai‘i, where she studied Hawaiian, one of seven languages she speaks, and taught at the University of Hawai‘i.

In her spare time, she explored local music, and in 1990 joined the Hawaiian Style Band as featured vocalist.

She’s won two Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. The list of superstars she’s played with include the Eagles, Stevie Wonder, Roy Orbison, and Stevie Nicks, Keali‘i Reichel, Makaha Sons, Amy Hanaiali‘i Gilliom, Darlene Ahuna.

The E Kanikapila Kakou Hawaiian Music Program is funded in part by leaders of the Hawaii Tourism Authority and County of Kaua‘i Office of Economic Development.

Next at EKK will be Nick Castillo and Nalani Duarte, on April 17.

For more information or to view the EKK season calendar and the session write-ups, visit online at www.gardenislandarts.

org, or contact giac@hawaiilink.net or 245-2733.

A donation in the calabash helps defray expenses.

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