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CMU Presents Alumni and Grammy Award winner Kalani Pe'a

Artist to perform benefit concert Nov 21 at the CMU Moss Performing Arts Center

“Everyone in this room has a gift and talent. We are profound and prominent resources for the communities we serve.” These were the words of Kalani Pe’a speaking from the stage of the 2019 Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, CA. For Pe'a, the Grammy platform wasn’t just a time for making speeches. As an artist he is transforming those words into community-minded action.

On November 21, 2019 Pe'a will perform at CMU to raise money for causes he believes in. It is no accident that Pe'a's upcoming concert will occur at the university that helped him learn to shape his words and music into meaning. Bringing his art to campus is Pe'a's way of paying back, and forward, what he learned while he was a student at CMU. Proceeds from the campus concert will benefit the CMU Department of Music, the Ho'olokahi Polynesian Club and the CMU Alumni Association.

"Colorado Mesa University is located in a desert climate, but campus is far from arid when it comes to

Phil Pe'a, CMU Alumni and Uncle of Kalani Pe'a

accepting the culture of Hawaii and the Hawaiian people who are current students or alumni of the university," said Kalani's Uncle, Phil Pe'a, who is also a CMU alumni, local business leader and elected official. "Having Kalani back on the stage at CMU, promoting causes he cares about, and playing the music he loves, shows his words at the Grammy Awards were not just from his mouth but from his heart."

For most musicians winning a Grammy Award is an abstract aspiration unlikely to be obtained. The notion of winning an award that symbolizes the pinnacle of artistic creativity in western culture is beyond the reasonable expectations of most any musical performing artist. Kalani Pe'a hasn’t just won such an award — he has won two. Not only has Pe'a won two Grammys awards, but only two years separated the musical commendations — a feat accomplished by very few musicians in U.S. history.

The CMU Alumni Association is a co-host of the concert, and believes that Pe'a’s words at the Grammys converge perfectly with the Alumni Association's mission and are combining to bring the special concert to fruition.

"CMU creates community," said CMU Department of Music Head Darin Kamstra. "The Alumni Association sustains that community. And music creates and sustains community through shared experience. In this way the concert will be special for CMU students, alumni and grand valley residents alike."

The Ho'olokahi Polynesian Alliance is another event partner and is among the largest and most influential student organizations on campus. CMU alumnus, employee and club advisor Breanne Meier said that the concert is a special symbol for the many Hawaiian students on campus today as well as for the many Hawaiian alumni who remain in western Colorado today.

“We have Hawaiians on staff at CMU as well as those in the community who serve as elected officials, education leaders and cultural advocates,” said Meier. “This concert shows two cultures, that on the face of it are very different, can produce a special connection that helps people like Kalani develop creativity to change the world through his music. We will all be there to celebrate Kalani’s talents and accomplishments.”

Pe'a was recently a guest of CMU during homecoming week where he received the prestigious distinguished alumni award. During this time, Pe'a toured campus and visited CMU President Tim Foster, reflecting on his time at the university.

“When Kalani was a student, he would walk around campus in flip flops with his ukulele bringing joy and enthusiasm everywhere he went,” said Foster. “Winning a couple Grammy awards hasn’t changed any of that. He still brought with him a distinct energy that will no doubt be on stage when he performs in the Robinson Theatre.”  

Advance tickets are $25 with a limited number of VIP Meet & Greet tickets available for $40. VIP ticket holders receive complementary beverages as well as traditional Hawaiian cuisine during a post-concert meet-and-greet. Doors open at 6:30pm with the concert occurring from 7:30-9:30pm. Tickets are available online. More information at 715.634.2100.

The event is sponsored by MBC Grand, Kona Brewing Company, Ehaki Grill and Western Colorado Chorale.

The live performance will include music from Pe'a’s most recent album, No 'Ane’i, as well as music from the album that fetched his first Grammy, E Walea – both award winning albums are from the category of the Best Regional Roots Music Album. Performing members of the Polynesian club will perform the hula, a traditional Hawaiian dance.

In Hawaii community is called O’hana. At CMU the idea is called Mavily. The melodies of Kalani Pe’a will bring them together on the stage of the Robinson Theatre on November 21.


Written by David Ludlam