Mele Mei

A Monthlong Celebration of the Music of Hawaii

Jake Shimabukuro Receives 2010 Entertainer of the Year Award
Jake Shimabukuro Receives 2010 Entertainer of the Year Award. Photo by John Fischer, licensed to About.com

Mele Mei , a month-long celebration of the music of Hawaii will take place throughout the month of May and into June in Hawaii. The biggest event, however, is the 2016 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, (Hawaii's GRAMMY® awards) on Saturday evening, May 28, 2016.

This year, in addition to the numerous events on the island of Oahu, there will also be events on Hawaii Island (the Big Island), Kauai and Maui.

Started in May 2011, Mele Mei, (literally translated as May Song) is a celebration of Hawaiian music and Hawaii's music in all of its wonderful and unique forms. It is presented by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts (HARA), and over 30 other corporate sponsors and partners.

As explained on the festival's website, "the events capitalize on Hawaiian music's global appeal to make the state of Hawaii the destination for national and international participants and visitors."

2016 Waikiki Events Highlights

Mele Mei will feature more than 40 events, including workshops, live concerts and awards ceremonies throughout Waikiki at various hotels, venues and the beach from April 10 – June 18, 2016. You can download  a full schedule of 2016 Mele Mei Events in Word form.

Included are a series of four weekly Brunch Concerts at Halekulani features multiple Na Hoku Hanohano Award winning artists beginning on Sunday, May 8. Scheduled performers are: Ledward Kaapana (May 8); Kaiao (May 15); Ho’okena (May 22) and Sean Na’auao (May 29).

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort will host a huge Honolulu BBQ & Blues Festival on Saturday, June 18 featuring Kalapana and Kahulanui. The event will take place on the Hilton Hawaiian Village Great Lawn and tickets can be obtained by calling (808) 949-4321.

Outrigger Hotels and Resorts will a series of five concerts at the Kani Ka Pila Grille beginning on Sunday, May 1 with Blaune Asing and Brother Noland. On May 8 the performers will be Ben & Maila and Nathan Aweau. Performing on May 15 will be Ku’uipo Kimikahi and Mailani. The Sunday, May 22 concert will feature Lehua & Shawn and Kuanna Torres Kahele. The series will wrap up on Sunday, May 29 with Kupaoa and Maimalua. Each concert will begin at 5:00 p.m. and end around 9:00 p.m.

On Sunday, May 8, A Mother’s Love – Ho‘okena's Mother’s Day concert brunch will take place at the Hibiscus Room of the Ala Moana Hotel. Performers will include Ho‘okena, Robert Cazimero, Albert Maglimat, and Ben & Maila. Doors open at 10:00 a.m.

On Friday May, 27, the Na Hoku Hanohano Music Festival Workshops will take place at the MELE Program at Honolulu Community College from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The workshops will feature  solo sessions with Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning performers, slack key guitar, ‘ukulele, haku mele, and professional development workshops.

The big event for the month,, of course, is the 2016 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. The Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts 39th Annual awards ceremony and dinner show will take place at the Hawai‘i Convention Center on Saturday, May 28 from 4:00 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.  Awards will be presented in 31 categories including Female and Male Vocalist of the Year, Group of the Year, Most Promising Artist of the Year, Single of the Year, Album and Song of the Year, and the very prestigious Favorite Entertainer of the Year.

2016 Neighbor Island Event Highlights

As previously mentioned, this year over ten events will also take place on the neighboring islands of Hawai’i Island (the Big Island), Kauai and Maui.

On Friday-Sunday, Apr 15–17, the 8th Annual Maui Steel Guitar Festival will take place at the Ka‘anapali Beach Hotel, Maui. The concerts are free but there's a slight charge for the steel guitar workshops

On Friday, May 9, at 7:00 p.m. the Brothers Cazimero will perform in concert at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea.

The Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaulea will take place on Saturday, May 21 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Pahala Community Center in Pahala. There is no admission charge. A number of Hawaiian music artists will appear throughout the day.

In coordination with the Big Island Film Festival HAPA will perform in concert on Monday, May 30 at 5:00 p.m. at the Fairmount Orchid on the Kohala Coast.  Tickets range from $35-50 for adults and $5-15 for children.

Friday-Saturday, June 7-18, the Hawai‘i Songwriting Festival will take place at the Hapuna Beach Prince Resort on Hawaii's Big Island. The Friday night "Hawai'i Night" concert will feature Raiatea, Paula Fuga, Streetlight Cadence, John Cruz, and more. The Saturday evening "Hit Makers" concert will feature Brett James, Tom Higgenson (of the Plain White T’s), Gary Burr, Georgia Middleman, Johnny Clay, Alan Rich and more. Both concerts begin at 7:00 p.m.

On Saturday, June 18 the Annual Celebration of Prince Kuhio will take place at Price Kuhio Park at Hoai Bay on Kauai. The celebration will include a concert featuring the Royal Hawaiian Band.

A Celebration Grows

In 2010 I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Na Hoku O Hawaii Music Festival, a four day festival celebrating the music and musicians of Hawaii.

Little did I realize at the time that soon this festival would expand to a month-long celebration of the music of Hawaii in all of its wonderful forms.

It’s a great time of the year to be in Hawaii.