I just returned from an idyllic vacation in Hawai’i—down on the Gold Coast of Oahu near Diamond Head—and felt the spirit of aloha in my heart and soul. Aloha means many wonderful things, all of them good: kindness, compassion, affection, farewell, greetings, grace, hello and goodbye. No wonder that in surveys of happiness, Hawaiians often say they’re the “most contented with their lives” out of all 50 states. The weather and the landscape are part of it—beautiful skies and weather, rainbows, mountains clothed in green, and soft rain. Then there is the warm crystal ocean, which I swam in every day. That generates aloha.
As we traveled around the island, I would ask our taxi drivers what music they liked. Almost everybody said “Brother Iz,” aka Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, the wonderful singer who died young at 38. Brother Iz’s voice also wafted out of stores and cars passing by. In spite of his short life, he came to personify what is known as the “Hawaiian Renaissance,” a movement towards reaffirmation of Hawaiian identity beginning in the 1970’s. Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson was a part of this. Trained by wayfinder Mau Pialug of Satawal, he piloted the traditional Polynesian sailing vessel Hukule’a from Hawai’i to Tahiti in 1980. The late Eddie Aikau was part of Thompson’s voyage, and drowned in 1978. “Eddie Would Go” refers to his fearless lifeguarding on the North Shore. We’ll feature three songs by Brother Iz, followed by a track by the veteran Cazimero Brothers, who embrace the Hawaiian language and traditional Hawaiian music.
The Cape Verdean counterpart to aloha is called morabeza. I was in Praia, Cape Verde two years ago and learned about this concept. Morabeza, like aloha in Hawai’i, pervades the Cape Verdean chain of islands off the coast of Senegal, and signifies similar things to aloha—like gentleness, kindness, generosity, compassion. Like the omnipresent voice of Brother Iz in Hawai’i, in Cape Verde it’s Cesaria Evora who you hear everywhere. Her songs provided the soundtrack as my group drove around the island of Praia. In addition to Cesaria, we’ll hear two other lesser-known Cape Verdean artists—Boy Gé Mendez and Elida Almeida.
I thought this music, and the spirit of aloha and morabeza that inhabits it, would be perfect for Thanksgiving weekend. I wish you all a restful, peaceful Thanksgiving holiday.
Rhythm Planet Playlist for 11/25/16:
6. Boy Gé Mendes / “Joia” / Lagoa / Lusafrica/Tinder