|July 2001 ~ Uluwehi Guerrero “In
My Heart”- The Concert
Written by Glenna Pointer and Pono Fried
Uluwehi Guerrero is back working at his island home after winning the prestigious Nä Hökü Hanohano award for best Male Vocalist of the Year. Maui’s own master storyteller, falsetto singer, balladeer, and Kumu Hula is ecstatic, and deservedly so. His new CD “In My Heart,” which rocketed to the top of the charts on local radio following its December 2000 release, will premier in a live performance on July 28th at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, at 7:30 p.m. along with a full cast of over 60 talented performers, including musicians, dancers, singers, and special guests. Uluwehi is ready to show theatergoers just how much is in his heart during a dynamic and romantic evening, with music that will bring joy to your spirit, and hula that is sure to touch your heart.
Pausing just enough time between mainland and Japan concert tours and Hula workshops, we spoke with Uluwehi in the midst of extensive preparations for his upcoming Maui event. Though he has worked very hard sharing the stage with other headliners over the years, he conveyed why this project is so exciting to him. As his first full-scale solo production, it will be an extended reflection of his current CD, which is a revelation of love for people, places, and events. Each has left an indelible print in his heart. “ I’m very appreciative of everything that has been placed in my life right now.” Ulu, as he is affectionately called by those closest to him, continued to express how this show is going to be a celebration of it all through music, song and dance. From familiar instrumentation to lush arrangements, he will use strings, harp and flute to embellish his concert. As Haku Mele, or composer, Uluwehi will feature both his own original Hawaiian and contemporary numbers, as well as traditional and popular selections. “I am so thankful of the family that I have, the friends I have made, the journeys that I have taken, the gifts that I have been given by God and my Kupuna,” says Uluwehi smiling. “This is one way I can let them know how much they all mean to me.”
While he’s grateful for the opportunity to travel as much as he does to other cultures, his eyes sparkle noting that there is nothing like the feeling of performing on our own shores, right here at home. “Maui always continues to inspire me to compose. Coming home keeps me grounded. I think we have the most beautiful place to live, and we need to take care of our resources, protect the land.” Traveling, teaching and performing has taught him the value of respect for all beings and all living things. These values are lovingly reflected in his songs. “So I want to perform first for the people of Maui, and would consider taking the show to the other islands as well,” Uluwehi stated.
What’s behind this down to earth local boy turned international superstar? From his humble central Maui origins to performances in such coveted venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, this popular entertainer got the name Uluwehi many years ago while himself a student in Hula. Meaning in this case growing in beauty, it is a name which is fitting of his own unique style. Now a Kumu Hula himself, Uluwehi has an innate ability to create visual beauty out of Hawaiian lyrics through hula. His innovative choreography for the modern Hula ‘Auwana has brought the art form to a new level, with its sophistication and elegance. With an appreciation of all forms of dance, Uluwehi will showcase Kahiko, ‘Auwana, and Modern Interpretive dance during this evening’s performance. Warning: attending this concert may cause the beauty within you to grow.
In My Heart ( The Mountain Apple Company,) took him nearly 2 years to complete. The stunning result is a rich blend of texture, depth and range, a quality showcase of this artist’s outstanding talent.
Known throughout the Islands and abroad, Uluwehi is no stranger to the Hökü awards. He was nominated in 4 categories this year: Song of the Year, Hawaiian Album of the Year, Haku Mele, and Male Vocalist of the Year, plus the people’s choice Entertainer of the Year. The debut of his first solo CD in 1996, Ka Manawa Pono, earned him 3 Nä Hökü award nominations as well. When asked how he felt when he received his award, he shared, “Even as I sat in anticipation, I reflected on how lucky and thankful I was to be there surrounded by all my friends and family. It’s something I will never forget. I was floating on a cloud all the way to the podium when my name was announced. I don’t remember what I said, but the energy of the audience allowed me to speak from my heart.” According to family and friends, all of Maui was tearfully rejoicing along with him, while watching on television.
Mayor James Kimo Apana recently proclaimed his congratulations to Uluwehi Guerrero by inviting him to his office and presenting him with a Resolution, honoring him for bringing home the Nä Hökü Male Vocalist of the Year 2001 award to Maui. The document commends him for his musical skills, which have gained international as well as local acclaim. The certificate of appreciation was given to Uluwehi on June 26th with close friends and family in attendance. While discussing Hawaiian culture with the Mayor, Uluwehi reinforced his ongoing desire to perpetuate Hawaiian culture and values by teaching Hula and music.
Uluwehi was asked why he would take on the responsibility of representing Maui with the Maui Visitors Bureau’s “Destination Maui” trips with such a full schedule. He revealed, “I see my role as being more than just to bring Hawaiian music and entertainment, but to educate and raise awareness to the travel industry that Maui is more than just an island with beautiful beaches and first class resorts. We also have a thriving living culture amongst the diverse peoples, with a beautiful language, arts, and crafts that are very much alive today. We are an island unique in all the world.”
What does the future have in store for Maui’s Ambassador of Aloha? He is currently working on material for the next recording project, and has been busy traveling to and from Japan and the mainland, performing and teaching, developing new relationships with others who share a passion for the Hawaiian culture. “I feel truly blessed to share the gift of music, not only with our own people of Hawai’i, but also with so many other beautiful cultures,” Uluwehi beamed. He looks forward to singing for you at the MACC on July 28th at 7:30 p.m. For Ticket reservations and information, call (808) 242-SHOW.