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We Go Jam in Hawai'i

Hawai'i Council for the Humanities sponsors an anthology on the music of Hawai'i

May 16, 2012 | By Hawai'i Council for the Humanities

We Go Jam: Celebrating Our Music, Our Soundscape, Our Hawai'i, an anthology of writing on Hawai'i's musical heritage, will be published this spring by the Hawai'i Council for the Humanities. The collection celebrates the music of Hawai'i through the “voices” of many of the islands’ leading writers and musicians, and will serve as the centerpiece for a series of statewide public programs and teacher workshops in the months ahead.

Edited by veteran journalist Susan Yim, these contributions of memoir and essay, poetry and lyrics, fiction and oral history, will demonstrate how Hawai‘i’s musical traditions have shaped and continue to shape who we are collectively and individually.

Works by some of Hawai'i's most popular writers are included: including Honolulu Star-Advertiser columnist, playwright and author Lee Cataluna; poet Lee Tonouchi, aka “Da Pidgin Guerilla;” journalist-blogger-surfer girl Catherine Toth; Hawaiian language authority Puakea Nogelmeier, professor of Hawaiian language at the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa; and singer-songwriter Jerry Santos, best-known for his work in the music group Olomana.

The softcover book will feature original writing, as well as works reprinted with permission of the authors. Also featured on the cover and in the anthology are illustrations by artist Grant Kagimoto of Cane Haul Road.

We Go Jam will take readers on a musical journey that begins in the days of old Hawai'i, proceeds through the cultural impact of each wave of plantation workers, the World War II era, statehood, the Hawaiian Renaissance and a new generation of musicians influenced by American pop music — and more.

Hawai'i Council for the Humanities plans to use We Go Jam in its public programs, such as History Day and Motheread®, and to work with universities and community colleges, and K-12 teachers statewide to incorporate the anthology into curricula. HCH will provide the softcover anthology to teachers in Hawai'i's schools to encourage students to express themselves through fiction and nonfiction and stimulate discussions of literature, history, music and culture. The book also will be distributed to public libraries on each island.

We Go Jam will be available for purchase through Hawai'i Council for the Humanities, and will also sold to the general public through selected venues. All proceeds will support Hawai'i Council for the Humanities public programs.

An excerpt from We Go Jam:

I knew a few things about Elvis Presley. I had seen him on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” I watched the Mainland girls go all out nutz when he appeared. Howling with laughter, my friends from Washington Intermediate School and I acted out his electric moves when no one was looking. I had heard that Elvis really rocked out the crowd at Honolulu Stadium. They screamed and went from wild to crazy when he moved into action as Elvis the Pelvis. The crooner. Since then he had come back to Hawai‘i to make movies.

There was even a big fan club that had the best “in” with Elvis. They always sang his songs for him from the sandy beach at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel and wouldn’t stop until he’d come out on his lanai to wave at them. No one was cynical or insulting about him then. Movie star ­magazines told about his growing fame, his military service in Germany, his sweetheart Priscilla. Like everyone else I learned that his favorite colors were pink and black. That’s what some of the girls in the local Elvis Fan Club always wore.

—  From The Lei for Elvis,” by Marie Hara

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