Seventeen-year-old high school student Kalyn Aolani has been singing traditional Hawaiian music and playing the ukulele since age 12. What started as a hobby has now grown into a thriving musical career with monthly concerts and a partnership with KoAloha Ukulele.
“Once I heard Raiatea sing ‘Kalam’ula,’ that was it,” Kalyn explains. “I knew I wanted to sing Hawaiian music.”
Since then, Aolani has performed as an opening act for the 2012 Southern California Slack Key Festival, appeared on a episode of Pakele Live!, and participated in the Waikiki Steel Guitar Festival.
Playing in front of an audience is an exciting experience for Aolani. “It feels really amazing, like you’re floating,” she says. “I always get an adrenaline rush, and I think that’s one of the best parts of performing.”
A senior in Orange County School of Arts’ Classical Voice conservatory, Aolani plans to continue her musical career past high school. Ultimately, she hopes to spread her love of Hawaiian music and inspire younger generations to get involved.
“I think it is so important to keep the tradition alive,” Aolani says. “Not very many musicians still perform songs like ‘I Ka Po Me Ke Ao,’ so when I sing it, people always come up to me and say ‘I used to listen to that when I was a kid!'”
With ten shows already lined up over the next few months, Aolani will not be leaving the spotlight any time soon. “I will never stop playing Hawaiian music,” she says. “I love it and it’s my passion.”