Music into the community

As a young woman, Carol Yotsuda had a deep love for Hawaiian music. 

And although she strongly desired to learn its words, she never dreamed she would create a program that would teach others who wanted to learn as well. 

Now, 32 years later, Yotsuda’s program, E Kanikapila Kakou, meaning “let’s strike up the music,” will treat Kauai to its annual 10-week concert, “Music into the community.”

“All I wanted to do was to learn to sing Hawaiian songs because I had a lot of Hawaiian singing friends,” Yotsuda said. “It’s a history, an oral history, of all the things that the Hawaiian people feel, do, love, cherish, enjoy.”

It’s “so woven into their lives you could just go through the songs and the hulas and you would get a sense of what the Hawaiian person is,” she added.

While she was at her friend Sam Kaahanui’s house, Yotsuda expressed her desire for a place for her and others to learn Hawaiian songs.

As a school principal, Kaahanui wrote a proposal for Yotsuda’s program idea and, after receiving funding for the project, EKK was launched in 1983.

Although the program began small, it has grown to 450 members, who, in addition to learning to sing Hawaiian songs, are also able to enjoy local music performances there.

“The season brings a chance for all the local people and all the visitors who come to the program to meet and hear the stories and songs from the artists who see them, the composers who write them,”  Yotsuda said. 

Beginning Jan. 19, the organization will feature different Hawaiian musicians, composers, dancers and storytellers to preform every Monday night in the Jasmine Ballroom of the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort from 6 to 9 p.m.  From 6 until 7 p.m., the group will host an ukulele circle where an artist will teach them a Hawaiian song. 

EKK will kick off the festivities by featuring the five ukulele groups from Kalaheo and Kaumakani, Lihue, Kilauea, Hanalei and Kapaa.

The performances will conclude on March 23 and will feature local made products for sale, food booths and different classes and workshops.

Although there is no fee for the concert, donations are welcome. 

On Monday, Jan. 26, E Kanikapia Kokou will feature the ukulele artists group “Kupaoa,” featuring Kellen Paik and his wife Lihau Hannahs. The couple’s instructor, Puakea Nogelmeier, will also be present at the concert as Kupaoa performs songs he composed.

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