The first thing that you have to figure out is your purpose in life. Once you discover your purpose, then the journey begins. As a little child, growing up on the tiny island of Molokai, I was always interested in Old Hawaiʻi. That included my culture, language, history, spirituality, music, and stories. These things helped to guide my curiosity as to where my ancestors traveled from and who I would become.
My name carries a special meaning regarding who we are – not only Hawaiian but Polynesian people as well. The name “Raʻiātea” was given to me by the spirits of my kūpuna (ancestors) while visiting my mother in her dreams, as she carried me in her womb. Raʻiātea is the origin of the Polynesian people. Raʻiātea means the bright light or the Heavens. Raʻiātea was also a princess (Ali’i). Raʻiātea is a part of my lineage.
At the age of 15, I discovered a beautiful gift. A gift that I would learn to take good care of – my voice. The melodies of old Hawaiʻi filled the void of not understanding or appreciating who I was. I grew up in a generation where we didn’t speak ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language). We were already caught up in the western ways. Living on Molokai nurtured my appreciation of Aloha ʻāina, as well as being “Keiki o ka ʻāina,” a child of the land. With this knowledge comes great responsibility, and I knew early on what I was destined to do. I fell in love with songs my parents and grandparents would listen to when they were my age. Not many in my generation appreciate this style of Hawaiian music. These are mele (songs) written about love – love for our land, love for our people and respect for others. It is a very positive way to share meaningful messages. Thankfully, very knowledgeable mentors, whom I met along the way, helped me to mold these songs and melodies into a style of my own.
It is my responsibility to perpetuate traditional Hawaiian music for the younger generations. As I enter my early 30s, it has become my passion and desire to inspire others to ensure that traditional Hawaiian music is alive and well!
~Raʻiātea Mokihana Maile Helm made history in 2006 as Hawai‘i’s first solo female vocalist ever to receive a Grammy Nomination for her sophomore CD “Sweet and Lovely.” And at 21 years old, she was one of the youngest performers to attend the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California.
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