This evening, I had the privilege of participating in a wonderful program, a screening of Kumu Hina with a special musical performance by Hawaiian music stars Kealiʻi Reichel and Shawn Pimental, presented by The Ford Foundation and Philanthropy New York. It was a sold-out New York crowd.

Kealiʻi Reichel commenced the program with a chant. Joined by Shawn Pimental, he performed Koali and E O Mai. Kumu Hina danced E O Mai (as pictured above.) I am used to Kealiʻi having a much bigger production complete with a full band and troupe of dancers. I found it refreshing to see this stripped down, duo of acoustic guitars, in such an intimate setting. The music and hula were sweet.

The film “Kumu Hina” tells the powerful story of Hina Wong-Kalu, a native Hawaiian transgender teacher, cultural practitioner and community leader. The film is honest, inspirational and touching. The screening was followed by a discussion, moderated by Roberta Uno, with filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson and Kumu Hina herself. Amidst an excellent Q&A, the audience was introduced to Kumu Hina’s “A Pledge of Aloha.”

pledge of aloha

To close, I was joined by Claudia Goddard, Jason Poole, and Kristabelle Munson to lead everyone in singing Hawaiʻi Aloha. I cannot imagine a more warm and fitting conclusion to a cold, flurry-filled New York evening. Congratulations to all on a wonderful event.

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Were you in attendance? What did you think about the film? Please share your comments.