Colorado Mesa University

The Maverick : Winter 2017

The Maverick magazine is a great way to stay in touch with current events at your alma mater, old classmates and the bright future of Colorado Mesa University.

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W hen Kalani Pe'a, '06, named his debut album E Walea — which means "be exuberant" in Hawaiian — he meant it. The 33-year-old Hawaiian native doesn't just sing about being walea. He lives it. "This project shares how I breathe, how I live, how I want to be in a thriving Hawaiian community that loves the elements around us," said Pe'a. "It's about loving the land, loving my people, loving our language and perpetuating our culture." His debut album — a Hawaiian contemporary soul CD — is all about living a full, vibrant life with 12 songs that include both original compositions and cover songs of old favorites. It's a passionate, heartfelt celebration of all things Hawaiian. Pe'a's sincere outpouring of emotion in song earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Regional Roots Music Album. "I recall vividly the morning of December 6 at 5:30, waking up to text messages and missed calls, phone calls from musical legends, saying 'Congratulations!' I was so grateful and overwhelmed with joy and happiness. All I did was cry. I was elated." The album debuted back in August at #1 on the iTunes World Music Chart. A week later, it hit #12 on the Billboard World Music Chart. But Pe'a still never imagined it could lead to the Grammys. "To represent my family, my ancestors and forefathers, as well as the other artists who collaborated with me is such an honor," he said. Singing in both English and Hawaiian, Pe'a is a passionate artist. On Feb. 12, he became the first Mesa Maverick to win a Grammy award. "To sing my heart out to the world, and to win this award, is absolutely a dream come true," he told The Maverick the next day. He attended the award ceremony with his mom and his significant other, Allan, at his side. "My mom inspired me. I have to acknowledge her. I got into music at four years old because of her. And I've gotten a lot of support from my other half — he's my best friend, my backbone and my believer." Both humble and grateful, he credits a significant part of his success to time spent at Mesa. "I want to thank my mass communication and performing arts teachers for allowing me to soar at Mesa. Those were some the best years of my life. I had so many great professors. I look up to Dr. Jack Delmore, in particular, because of the technique he taught me, how to sing properly." His PR and news editorial skills have also come in handy in the music business. "I know how to write liner notes, do my own media releases and market the album," he added. "I'm an independent artist, there's no label behind me. Allan and I are our own team." Pe'a now lives on Maui and works during the day as a Hawaiian resource coordinator for Kamehameha Schools. "Music is beyond poetry," he added. "It's sharing our story. It's about how we impact the world with our music." • AN "EXUBERANT" GRAMMY WINNER Debut album earns alumnus Kalani Pe'a first Grammy Award By Jessica Peterson 7 WINTER 2017 • VOLUME 6.2 COLORADO MESA UNIVERSITY

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