Kumu Keli’iʻs hula lineage dates back to the time before the rule of King Kalākua. During the King Kalākauaʻs reign, his family participated in balls and parties held in ʻIolani Palace.
In other words, at that time, the backstory of the songs composed by Kalākaua, Liliʻuokalani, and other royals, were sometimes recorded in the family journals who were members of the court at that time, and Kumu Keliʻi remembers all of the information from those family records.
Kumu’s memory is tremendous. He not only memorized all of the Kalaukoa family’s more than 700-year-old family line, but also memorizing more than 100 songs and more than 40 chants in his brain. It can be said that he has a genius memory because he has been educated not to take notes, look in the mirror and to learn hula in a very short amount of time.
The Hawaiian culture of old had no written culture, so things were passed directly from mouth-to-mouth within families. Some of the information that Kumu Keliʻi shares has been passed down since days of old and have not been recorded yet.
In hopes that there will be an opportunity for Japanese people to understand Hawaiʻi correctly, Kumu’s lessons generously provide rich content to help you btter understand the true spirit of Hawaiʻi.
If you want to know the truth about Hawaiʻi with your own eyes, the information from Kumu, who is said remind elders of their elders, is truly a treasure trove.
Many of the age-old Hawaiian songs that are considered traditional contain kaona (hidden meaning). The true meaning and backstory of a Hawaiian song can only be fully understood by the one who composed it.
Searching the internet for lyrics and translations of these ancient songs can be difficult to obtain, and/or the information may be incorrect.
Kumu Keliʻi and the Kalaukoa Family are connected to many musicians, hula practitioners, composers, and musicians who are now legendary in their own right
As a result, there are many songs whose meaning can be directly confirmed by the composer themselves, or by the descendant or former pupil of that composer. Some songs and their kaona that Kumu Keliʻi have learned have been taught by the composer or their close family/pupils. This includes mele composed and choreographed created by Mary Kawena Pūkuʻi herself, the leading 20th authority on all Hawaiian knowledge.
In addition, he has a close relationship with some of the leading musicians in modern Hawaiian music, so he knows the true meaning of related songs and lyrics.
There are also plenty of other songs whose backstory is known to him such as Sanoe, Ka Hīnano o Puna, Niʻihau, Waikā, Lei Hoʻoheno, and more.
Not only with regard to music, but also about the political background of the time, the lives and stories behind the royal family, and life in the palace. This knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation, and each class, workshop, and course contains a lot of these stories in them. It attracts the people who are listening, while at the same time allowing students to learn a different account and perspective that may be different from what you may have previously heard.
The information stored in Kumu Keli’is brain is truly a treasure trove of Hawaiian culture and knowledge.