Hawai'i State News

New music blends tradition and innovation in mele Hawai‘i

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Nicholas Lum. Photo Courtesy: Nicholas Lum

Pewa focuses on a new approach to mele Hawaiʻi – one that focuses on a responsible blending of innovation and tradition to create a brand new offering of mele Hawaiʻi.

Representing a new brand of music, Pewa is a creation of Nicholas Lum, member of the award-winning Hawaiian music group, Keauhou.

Lum is no stranger to the intricacies of mele Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian song) and haku mele (Hawaiian song-writing). Garnering a total of 19 Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards with Keauhou while producing mele Hawaiʻi in a traditional fashion, Lum sets out on a new path of innovation in mele Hawaiʻi with the aspiration of blending traditionally-written text in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) with modern music popular today.


The self-titled album, Pewa, features eight original compositions that touch upon various mele types including mele pana (songs about storied places), mele inoa (name songs), mele hoʻoipoipo (songs of intimacy) and more. The music takes inspiration mainly from R&B and jazz while incorporating ideas stemming from hip-hop and electronic music. Three of the eight tracks (“Lei Onaona,” “Mōkapu,” and “Akāka Haleakalā”) have already been released as singles and can be enjoyed on Apple Music, Spotify, or other music streaming platforms.

Being born into a musical family, Nicholas found his passion for music at a young age. This love for music and ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi blossomed further at the Kamehameha Schools Kapālama where he took part in various musical and cultural opportunities such as the Concert Glee Club and the Kamehameha Schools Warrior Marching Band. He continued his education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa attaining concurrent Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Hawaiian Language and Music as well as a Master of Arts degree in Hawaiian Language.

He is currently a doctoral student at Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Outside of education, Nicholas is a graduated ʻōlapa (dancer) and hoʻopaʻa (drummer) of Hālau nā Kamalei o Līlīlehua under the direction of Robert Uluwehionāpuaikawēkiuokalani Cazimero. He works at the College of Education at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa as a developer for standardized testing for the Hawaiian immersion schools.


Pewa releases on December 29, 2023 aiming to shift the idea of what mele Hawaiʻi is and what it can be.

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