The Aloha Spirit, and a Satisfying Joy

By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer, 2015 Artists in Business Leadership Fellow

A simple stop for lunch with his hula halau (dance school) led to Kaloku Holt’s (Native Hawaiian) most rewarding experience as an artist. It happened at a restaurant on the Big Island when, over the radio, one of Kaloku’s original songs came on. The happiness it brought those around him showed he impacted people in a positive way. He will never forget that moment, fueling his drive to share the aloha spirit through his creations.

He didn’t always have that outlook.

Music wasn’t an option in Kaloku’s upbringing — it was an obligation. A lifestyle he was born into. As a young boy in Hawai’i, he reluctantly sang in the church choir, took piano lessons, even played the ukulele to entertain his mother in place of his family’s forever-broken car radio.

But his outlook on music, this obligation, changed as he grew up. It became a passion, an art. When he started his first band after high school, Kaloku knew there was no turning back. He was dedicated and eager to share the aloha spirit.

Kaloku Holt teaches hula to the 2016 First Peoples Fund's fellows.

Kaloku Holt teaches hula to the 2016 First Peoples Fund's fellows.

Now, he draws people from different cultures, backgrounds and walks of life together in one experience. His music touches hearts and souls. Whether as a solo artist, duet, full band, or emcee and featured singer in a Polynesian review show in Japan, Kaloku takes pride in sharing traditions of his ancestral Hawaiian home.

Art was passed down to him, and he passes it on to others. Kaloku teaches hula and ukulele to children and adults, shares his success and nurtures the next generation, equipping them to carry on the traditions of their ancestors. This brings a satisfying joy to his heart.

Kaloku appreciates his humble beginnings and the privilege to draw from his Hawaiian ancestry. Combined with the contemporary, he creates his distinct sound and shares the aloha spirit with the world.

"Take Me Back" is a song I wrote dedicated to all who are from Hawaii and have moved away from their home and for those who have visited or lived in Hawaii and always have a piece of Hawaii in their hearts. This recording was done in Honolulu, HI and performed as the duet, The Brothers Kaloku and Keawe.  - Kaloku Holt

Kaloku Holt is a 2016 Artists in Business Leadership Fellow.