Public service campaign inspires the catchy ‘Our Kuleana’

  • Photo by Tracey Niimi Hawaii music legend Bruddah Waltah Aipolani sings during recording of "Our Kuleana."

  • Photo by Tracey Niimi Five-time Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Kainani Kahaunaele sings during recording of "Our Kuleana."

  • Photo by Tracey Niimi Brandon Nakano at the sound board of his studio during recording of "Our Kuleana."

The Our Kuleana campaign — which features well-known island figures donning face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on TV and in print ads, as well as everyday folks taking up the challenge and posting photos of themselves masked up with the hashtag #ourkuleana — inspired Hilo musician Brandon Nakano.

Nakano, a singer-guitarist who also has a professional recording studio, contacted the people behind the campaign about writing “some music for the cause.”

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“They said, ‘How long?’ And I said, ‘Give me tonight. I’ll give you a rough cut of the chorus by tonight,’” Nakano told the Tribune-Herald recently. “And then, it just sort of blossomed into what it is.”

Nakano wrote an entire song, “Our Kuleana” — a catchy tune with a relaxed island reggae feel and an anthemic sing-along chorus, “Our island, our home, our kuleana to stand up and own/Our people, our fight, our decision to do what is right.”

He then contacted a dozen of his talented friends, including Mark Yamanaka, Kainani Kahaunaele, Bruddah Waltah Aipolani, Ira Kekaualua, Karl Kasberg, Milan Bertosa, Wills Kauhane, Preston Paulo, Kaiks Kuahiwinui, Emma Coloma-Nakano, Preston Paulo, Alan Gebin, CJ Kama, Siaki Faleta and Chris Cabarloc.

“I set a goal to record the whole thing in a weekend. We did that,” Nakano said. “But it’s more than just about the COVID thing for me. I think the song is more about how we need to reconnect with our real kuleana of taking care of each other.”

It’s clear the group, dubbed the Alohaland Collective, were all in on the song, which is available for download on iTunes and streaming on Pandora and Spotify.

“That feel of togetherness in the song, that wasn’t created by me. That was created by everyone who was involved in it,” Nakano said. “I think the way it plays out, everybody is in it for each other. Even in the recording, everyone seemed to be more for the song than for the shine.”

The song is already being played on local radio, and while listeners will probably latch on to the chorus, Nakano himself is partial to a particular line in the tune.

“It’s ‘our aloha is our strength, and our solution comes from within,’” he said. “And I really, really feel like that’s true. If we start putting aloha first, in the forefront of everything that we do, I think that’s the solution we need to help this situation.”

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For more information, go to Our Kuleana Hawaii on Facebook and ourkuleanahawaii on Instagram.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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