PUHI — Willie K says having good teachers for future generations is the most important key for children to become productive citizens.
“Teacher are one of the lowest-paying professions, and the only way we can keep good teachers here in the islands is to help provide more funding — whether for wages or assisting in furthering their education and accreditation,” said the mutliple time Na Hoku Hananano award winner.
Willie K will hold a holiday concert Friday at Kauai Community College School to benefit the Growing Our Own Teachers on Kauai program.
Willie will be performing songs from his “Willie Wonderland” album, which includes songs such as “Winter Wonderland,” Silver Bells” and “Jingle Bells/Kani Kani Pele.”
The concert will also feature comedian Rodney Villanueva.
Bill Arakaki, Kauai Complex Area superintendent, said the Department of Education benefits greatly from GOOT program.
“This helps greatly in building our teacher pool to fill job vacancies in our complex area,” Arakaki said. “I fully support this amazing program that ultimately impacts our children and schools with certified, licensed and quality teachers.”
Whenever Willie and his band visits Kauai, Willie’s wife, Debbie Kahaialii, said the people are appreciative and responsive.
Although he has built a reputation as one of the foremost practitioners of Native Hawaiian music over the years, it was the blues that Willie first learned from his father, Manu Kahaialii.
“My father was a great influence,” Willie said. “He groomed me to be where I am today. He was just as diverse as I am — the guy knew how to play everything: jazz, blues and Hawaiian.”
Debra said Willie’s dad would take him as a little boy to venues when he had to play.
“This gave Willie an early introduction to music,” she said. “Willie fell in love with every genre of music he heard and tried to learn as much as he could.”
With about 20 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards to his credit, Willie has been involved with music since he was six and has produced 11 albums.
The “Willie Wonderland” album was the 2011 Na Hoku Hanahano Christmas Album of the Year; his second award in the genre.
Debbie said Willie is working on a reggae project, a blues album and something classical.
The Willie K Holiday Concert is 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. with doors open at 6:30 p.m. General admission tickets are available for $40. Tickets for premium seating are sold out.
Tickets are available online at growkauaiteachers.org or by phone: (808)755-9217.