Kamehameha Song Contest Preview

Dez Le'i
Dez Le'i

It's crunch time for Kamehameha Schools students, as they practice for Friday's song contest.  One of them is a young lady from Kahuku, who's suddenly the boss of her entire class.  Growing up in her church choir, with a knack for the ukulele and a mom who teaches piano, Dez Le'i has been unknowingly preparing for this Friday for the last 14 years.

"Gonna be 15 the day after song contest", she says.

All 442 of her freshmen classmates are counting on her to teach them their co-ed song, 'Nani Heeia', by Manu Boyd.

It's about that gorgeous place, Heeia, once owned by chief Abner Paki, who gave it to his daughter, Princess Pauahi, who left it to Kamehameha Schools.  And now the freshmen pay tribute through practice.

"Theres days like oh my gosh, then days like come on guys like we can do this", says Le'i.

This is one of those 'come on guys' days.

"Sit back down everyone please be quiet", she says.

They're talking instead of listening, and the young men are feeling a bit shy.

"It's still kind of soft", De'i says about their singing, "and you put all the other voices and they won't be able to hear as much."

Soon the class starts to gel.  And as they learn, Le'i is learning.

"You guys are doing super good.  I'm really excited for next week", she says.

And there's something comforting about being the underdogs.

"Were still really young.  I just want them to do their best and know what they're doing, to feel confident and love what they're doing, to have confidence in me, as a director.  And if we were able to win that's just like a bigger surprise because no one would expect it from the freshmen."

By the end of this practice it's clear they won't be underdogs for long.

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