It’s for the music

To say Anuhea has been busy is an understatement. She is currently touring the Mainland with reggae group SOJA. Then she jumps over to Las Vegas Monday for a solo show, only to hop on a Hawai‘i-bound plane to celebrate the release of her album “For Love.”

“This is my dream,” said Rylee “Anuhea” Jenkins while walking the streets of San Francisco. “It’s not even stressful. It’s really fun to perform music for my job and for life, and I’m having a blast.”

The Maui-born singer/songwriter and Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning musician will be performing Saturday during Kalapaki Joe’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Po‘ipu. Admission is free.

“I will be playing a solo acoustic show with a lot of new songs from the new album,” Anuhea said. “Of course I’ll play the ones everyone’s heard already. Of course I’ll play a few old ones, and I might even be playing some new ones and I will be definitely be rapping.”  

“For Love” hits stores in Hawai‘i Tuesday. The album is a follow-up to her self-titled debut album, which landed on the iTunes’ Pop and R&B charts at No. 4 and No. 3, respectively.

“I worked really hard this one,” Anuhea said. “It took me almost three years between the last album and this one. I put a lot of time into it, and I wrote some really good songs. I’m excited to share it with everybody.”

The singles “Higher Than the Clouds” and “Simple Love Song” are in heavy rotation on island radio stations, and the album has been praised for its enchanting, Hawai‘i-inspired melodies that bring the warm summer to its listeners.

“All of my new songs are my favorite because they’re fresher,” Anuhea said. “I love playing ‘Higher Than the Clouds.’ … I always love playing ‘Simple Love Song,’ especially in Hawai‘i. All the kids love it, everyone knows the words and it makes me really happy. Seeing the guys try and hit the high note is really funny for me.”

The album speaks a lot about love, and includes a cover of Estelle’s “Come Over.”

“I’ve written about more things that I’ve gone through,” said Anuhea about her growth. “I also feel like I’ve grown as a musician — just being on the road with the first album and now being on the road and traveling a lot and working with different types of musicians — I’m learning a lot about music in general.”

She has performed alongside Jack Johnson (who performs on Kaua‘i April 19), Ziggy Marley and Taj Mahal at the Kokua Festival.

“Jack Johnson was my inspiration when I started to play music, so when I played at his festival, that was really amazing,” Anuhea said.

Anuhea’s goal is to have her music gain traction on the Mainland, which she notes is a hard thing to do. But don’t expect the Maui-born singer to live across the Pacific.

“When it comes down to it, I can’t be away from home,” said Anuhea. “Hawai‘i is my sanctuary. Being with my friends and family, the beautiful weather and having my inspiration, I always have to come home and re-group.”

For Anuhea, inspiration can hit at any moment. The singer jots down words, thoughts and phrases in her notebook or iPhone. When she has alone time, Anuhea will pick up her guitar and play with chords and melodies and see what she’s written.

She lists Jack Johnson, Nicki Minaj, Alicia Keys and Jewel among her influences. Right now, English singer/songwriter Ellie Goulding’s album and Adele have a heavy rotation on Anuhea’s iPod.

It’s a wonder to think the young singer taught herself how to play guitar while boarding at Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu.

After flirting with film school in Southern California, Anuhea returned to her home state to pursue a career in music. She would record herself on her computer and upload videos of her singing on MySpace and later YouTube.

She started performing at a local coffee shop she worked at, and then moved on to paid gigs at restaurants and started passing out demo CDs. The first time Anuhea heard herself on the radio, she was by herself under the stars at Haleakala on Maui listening to a late-night radio show.

“It was one of those underground recordings I made of myself on the computer,” Anuhea said. “I was in my car by myself and with my guitar hoping I would get played. They played myself at 1:45 a.m., and I was so excited. I got tears in my eyes, and it reminded me that anything is possible and I want to everyone to have that same kind of hope, that you can do anything.”

For her St. Patrick’s Day concert, Anuhea said she is looking forward to play on Kaua‘i, sign autographs and meet fans.

“I’ve played shows on Kaua‘i the last couple of months, and it’s always been amazing,” Anuhea said. “I’m really proud of this album, and I’m excited for everyone on Kaua‘i to have it.”

Doors for this all-ages show open at 4 p.m. The music festival kicks off with the Michelle Walker Band at 5 p.m., followed by the Papa‘a Bay Boys at 6 p.m. and Revival at 7 p.m. Anuhea is scheduled to take the stage at 8 p.m.

Kalapaki Joe’s Po‘ipu is located at 1941 Po‘ipu Rd. in Po‘ipu. Call 742-6366 for more information.

• Andrea Frainier, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 257 or afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.

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