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Grammy award winning singer puts Hawaiian twist on classic Christmas songs

Kalani Pe'a kicks off his seven city tour in Edmonds to highlight his new album "Purple Hawaiian Christmas." #k5evening

SEATTLE — Kalani Pe'a describes his sound as Hawaiian Contemporary Soul; and this year he's offering up his take on the holidays with the album "Purple Hawaiian Christmas."

The title reflects his love for the color purple. His Christmas tree, his phone, and often his fashion accessories, are all purple. 

And that's why Pe'a couldn't be more excited about launching his tour in the Seattle area.    

"There is a store there called The Purple Store on Stewart street. And yes, I'm addicted, I'm addicted, I'm addicted!" Pe'a exclaimed.

Kalani is passionate about his purple; and also about what drives his mission as an artist. 

His mesmerizing music is often sung in Native Hawaiian, a language less than 10 percent of Hawaiians speak thanks to colonization and strict English only laws.  

After learning it himself through immersion, he spent ten years as a teacher, developing and teaching a Hawaiian language curriculum and used music as a tool for teaching STEM.   

This passion would ultimately lead him to bigger stages with the goal of teaching the world.

"I'm a storyteller. Folk music, they are storytellers. Country music also. Hawaiian music, we are storytellers too," Pe'a shared. "We give you history and insight into what our elders have lived before us."

Since 2017, Pe'a has won three Grammy Awards. It's a huge feat considering the category of Best Regional Roots.

He is the first and only native Hawaiian artist to win a Grammy in the regional roots category.  

"Hawaiian music, we've been around for thousands of years and to be lumped with other genres, it gives us a challenge. It gives us a challenge because we are competing with the world," Pe'a said. "Native American is in our category, so to even be nominated is a huge deal."

When you listen to Kalani Pe'a, it may feel like you're being whisked away. 

And, you are. Because with each lyric he brings his whole self, his identity and his home.  

"Hawaii, we have hundreds of names to exemplify and describe the beauty of this place. We compare people to flowers, to rain, the mountains and the ocean and the rivers and the sea," Pe'a shared. "You can hear that through my music and also see it in the Hula dancers and the story being told. The biggest accolade for me is seeing people make the personal connection."

You can listen to "Purple Hawaiian Christmas" online and on Apple Music. 

Kalani Pe'a will perform Thursday, Dec. 1st, at the Edmonds Center for the Arts.

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