What would be the most challenging audience for a musician? The Deaf. How could you perform music for those who can't hear? This is exactly the task the GRAMMY award winning Honoka'a Jazz Band chose to take on when they added a performance at the Hawai'i School for the Deaf and Blind to their 2015 Big City Tour. The band will be on tour on Oahu from April 16th through the 19th of this year. Their members are students from the Honoka'a High who come to tour Oahu each April in celebration of National Jazz Appreciation Month which culminates in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) International Jazz Day on April 30th.
While the Honoka'a Jazz Band will perform music, the HSDB personnel will sign the songs. The art and cultural exchange between the hearing and hard-of-hearing schools will also include HSDB students sharing Deaf cultural norms and American Sign Language (ASL) phrases with the Honoka'a students and the HSDB Dance Team, will be performing for the Honoka'a students.
Other highlights of the Grammy award-winning Honoka'a Jazz Band 2015 Big City Tour include performing at the surprise celebration welcoming a lucky local guest who will be the five millionth kama‘aina guest to Wet'n'Wild Hawaii. Wet'n'Wild Hawaii numbers show that kama‘aina guest number 5 million should walk through the gates sometime on April 18. The five millionth kama‘aina guest will receive a season pass good for 16 years and a prize pack. Named “Best of Honolulu” family attraction by HONOLULU magazine and Hawaii's #1 season pass by HONOLULU Family magazine, Wet‘n'Wild Hawaii is also celebrating its 16 years in business this summer.
Conference and Convention gigs are often sought after by musicians and this year the Honoka'a Band will perform for the 2015 Hawai?i State Teacher's Association (HSTA) Conference at the Hawai?i Convention Center. Experiencing real world settings that musicians are in helps to prepare music students for possible careers. The Honoka'a Jazz band is often requested and available for these kinds of performances.
The Honoka'a Jazz Band's music is appreciated by many including Oahu seniors. This year, their performance for seniors is hosted by 15 Craigside and will honor a resident of the Arcadia Community who has quietly supported the development of the Honoka'a String program. The string program is also under the direction of Gary Washburn and will be included on Oahu this year.
Each year the repertoire of the band changes as students graduate and the "personality" of the band changes. This necessitates Mr. Washburn writing and arranging most of the music to fit the student turnover and make the band's music selections unique. This year their repertoire includes a wide variety of music spanning from the 1938 Chick Webb/ Ella Fitzgerald version of “A Tisket, A Tasket” to the 2014 selection “Loving You”. The repertroire includes a dedication to the late Horace Silver, a Ruth Brown version of “You made My Love Grow Cold” and standards such as “Caravan, I Got It Bad, DeBarge's hit “Rhythm of the Night”and other favorites.
The general public is invited to come and hear the Honoka?a Jazz band and enjoy the healing qualities it can bring. “Music has medicinal properties and can be used to help heal. It has been used in cultures since the beginning time to create emotions and feelings that otherwise might not exist” says, Washburn. The band's 2015 free public appearances include performances at the Royal Grove of Royal Hawaiian Center on Saturday, April 18 at 5 p.m. and at the Ala Moana Centerstage on Thursday, April 17 also at 5 p.m. Catch glimpses of them on Hawai?i News Now KGMB and KHNL early on the morning of Friday, April 17th.
Honoka'a Jazz Band has been recognized by NAMM Foundation as being an outstanding school for Music Education. Honoka'a High Schol was one of 36 schools out of 22,000 eligible programs in the U.S. to receive the GRAMMY Signature Schools Award. The NAMM Foundation is a non-profit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and it's nearly 9000 members around the world, with the mission of advancing active participation in music making by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs from the international music products industry.
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