E Kanikapila Kakou kicks off 24th season with bright talent

The home-grown concert series celebrating Hawaiian music and audience participation returns this weekend. E Kanikapila Kakou (“Let’s play a stringed instrument”) kicks off its 24th season with Sunday’s concert at Kaua‘i Community College Performing Arts Center.

This year’s theme, “Hana Hou” welcomes back many favorite presenters, while adding exciting new talent.

Brittni Paiva, affectionately nicknamed “the ‘ukulele darling,” has begun her career on the tail of a comet. Brittni walked away with the 2005 Na Hoku Hanohano “Most Promising Artist Award” at the age of 16 for her debut recording, “Brittni X 3,” in which she played all three parts — ‘ukulele, guitar and bass. At age 17 she released her second CD entitled “HEAR…,” which was awarded the 2006 Hawai‘i Music Awards “‘Ukulele Album of the Year” and also received two nominations for the 2006 Na Hoku Hanohano categories for “Best Instrumental Album of the Year” and “Favorite Entertainer of the Year.” Now at 18, Paiva has released her third album, the self-titled “Brittni.”

This Hilo native, born Sept. 28, 1988, has an ethnic background almost as diverse as her music. Of Portuguese, Danish, Japanese and Hawaiian lineage, Paiva began her musical training at age 4, studying classical piano under the Suzuki method. At age 11, her grandfather introduced her to the ‘ukulele. Paiva immediately connected with this traditional Hawaiian string instrument that would become the heart of her music. She went on to embrace ki ho‘alu (Hawaiian slack key guitar) and bass. “I want the strings to be my voice and portray as much feeling as a singer would,” Paiva said.

The young musician, who has promised to be a prolific addition to Hawai‘i’s great musical tradition, joins three renowned musicians — Ledward Kaapana, Mike Kaawa and Brother Noland — for Sunday’s concert. EKK welcomes songwriters, composers and kumu hula to share their love and knowledge of Hawaiian music every Monday night for 12 weeks.

This unique concert series is an opportunity to share in the tradition of storytelling through words and music, a foundation in the islands’ cultural history. The nonprofit Garden Island Arts Council sponsors and organizes the annual event as a way to enrich the heritage of art on the island. This year the series applauds the past and invites the future, a sure way to preserve tradition.

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