Thursday, March 5, 2015

Love in the Rainforest: Hapa and "Kahea U`ilani"

Kahea V`ilani by Hapa on Grooveshark

Our random tune for today takes us to the beautiful Hawaiian islands with Hapa. The name Hapa means "half," and indeed one of the members, Barry Flanagan, is a white guy from New Jersey who is currently paired up with native Hawaiian Ron Kuala'au. Flanagan has been a consistent 30 year member of the duo. He started out partnering with Keli'i Ho'omalu Kaneali'i. Following Kaneali'i, Flanagan teamed with Nathan Aweau, who eventually left for a solo career. Flanagan then partnered with Hawaiian chanter Charles Ka'upu, who described Hapa's goal as helping revive the Polynesian language and to totally change the way the world perceives Hawaiian music. Unfortunately, Ka'upu died suddenly and unexpectedly in his early 50s in 2011. In its new incarnation Hapa continues to draw from jazz, folk, blues, bluegrass, Latin, flamenco, rock, Irish music and slam poetry as well as traditional Hawaiian music. Hapa's debut CD in 1995 became the biggest selling album ever by a Hawaiian group, and they have since released eight albums.

This song, Kahea U`ilani, can be found on their 2002 album In the Name of Love. The song's title translates as The Call of the Heavens. The lyrics are a beautiful evocation of love and the rainforest:

Coolness in the fine, gentle rain,
A tingling love within me.
There amidst the dew scattered by the breeze,
We embrace, we embrace the forest.
You are my precious lei,
An adornment to be worn forever
In the cool fragrance of the uplands.

Delighting in the forest,
The beauty in our love,
As we sway in the purple mist.
The story is told, of the beauty witnessed
In the purple mist of the upland.

In the forest where we delighted,
The beauty of the heavens calling.