Chucky Souza entered the Hawaiian music scene in the 1970s, a time when Hawaiians were re-connecting with the world. Hokule'a sailed its maiden voyage to tahiti, sending the message that Hawaiians are still here, still practicing our culture, and ready for the future.
This "Hawaiian Renaissance" was a coming out party. There was a feeling of excitement. We could be "traditional" and "modern" at the same time and still be Hawaiian.
At the time of the "Hawaiian Renaissance" baby boomers were coming of age in the Hawaiian Islands. Their parents had felt the pressure to keep their culture underground. To be successful was to go along with the dominant paradigm of America, colonialism, and big business. This paradigm was challenged by artists and activists on many fronts. Music gave a voice to this movement.
Contemporary Hawaiian music was emerging as a genre with elements of country, jazz, R&B and more. Artists were stepping away from pop culture to write songs and play music that transcended genre and told about issues that mattered. The late George Helm did this and his rise to fame brought these issues to the forefront of our consciousness. So did Mackey Feary, Billy Kaui, and many others.
A lot of things happened over the last 30 years in Hawaiian music and Hawaiian culture. Helm, Feary, Kaui, and many others that were at the center of the music scene during the Hawaiian Renaissance have passed away. But the rest of us are still here.
Today, in 2014 Hokule'a is sailing around the world. Thirtysomething years later, we no longer need to say "we have arrived" or even “we are still here.” We need to say "we know who we are.”
We got stuck. We have to get out of the rut, free ourselves from whatever is holding us down. Today the Hawaiian Islands are known as a bad business climate, politely called risk averse and unsustainable resource use; others say inbred, ingrown and isolated. Locals hear that and react fervently:
“Everybody wants to move over here, Turn it into what it’s not, Confirming all our greatest fears, When this island is one big parking lot.” - Chucky Souza, "Too Much Cars" (2014)
We formed a resistance. The Hawaiian Renaissance had evolved into the Hawaiian Resistance. We felt that we had to preserve what little culture we had left. Many of us still feel this today.
Malama Music Publishing is starting by picking up where we - our artists, our family, our people - left off. We know who we are. We don’t want to sing other people’s songs over and over. We want to write our own music, define our own genre, tell our own stories. And, most important, we do not want someone else to define who we are. To do this, we cannot resist change; by blending musical styles, incorporating new technologies, and singing about what matters to us right now, we are making sure that our culture can and does live on in us and our keiki.
Today, in 2014 Chucky Souza has released his first solo album, picking up where we left off. Thirtysomething years later, we no longer need resistance; we need movement.
This post was originally published as a series of tweets via @MalamaMusicPubl during September and October 2014; it was posted in its entirety at malamamusicpublishing.com on October 14, 2014.