HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s the day before the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest — a longstanding island tradition 99 years old.
Proudly wearing their class colors of red, purple, green and gray, the high school students of Kamehameha Schools Kapalama assembled at the Blaisdell Arena Thursday for one last chance to fine-tune their songs.
“Very excited, a little bit nervous,” senior Women’s Song Leader Nadia Pagdilao said when asked how she was feeling ahead of the big competition. “The girls have been working really hard, so I’m really excited to see what we’re going to do tomorrow.”
Each year, the classes come out fighting with their best melodies and smooth harmonies in hopes of earning ultimate bragging rights — and the coveted school trophies.
This year’s theme is Na Mele Ohana, The Music and Legacy of Vickie Ii Rodrigues, a beloved musician, kumu hula and all around entertainer.
“Because of her love of the mele and the hula, that’s why we’re here today,” Rodrigues’ daughter, Nina Kealiiwahamana Rapozo said.
“I cannot wait to hear the singing because mother and grandparent’s first love was choral signing – not just solo singing or being a star of the show or anything – it was choral music. So this is like a true dream come true for all of us,” Rapozo added.
She said when Kamehameha Schools first approached her family about dedicating this year’s theme to her mother, she was humbly hesitant.
“Mama was not the type to be out there,” she said. “So it took a while to say, ‘let’s consider this.'"
After some convincing, Rapozo and her family agreed, opening up a treasure trove of stories, songs and dance to the students of Kamehameha.
“It’s so import to perpetuate our culture – all of it. Whether it’s the music, the mele, the hula, the 'aina, the ocean – everything about it is important to us and our children to perpetuate. And we should do so every inch of the way,” Rapozo said.
The legacy of the Rodrigues ohana will be on display Friday night through the songs and ho’ike performance.
“It’s an unbelievable dream come true. We’ve watched the song contest for years and years and always thought that they honored the very best. And to have mother and her grandparents included this year is like heaven. It’s a dream come true,” Rapozo said.
For the senior women, they’re hoping to make the honoree’s family proud with their rendition of the song Wehiwehi 'Oe.
“It’s just about cherishing the one you love and stringing a lei of love,” Pagdilao said.
She hopes her classmates will feel that love and cherish the moment of being in the spotlight come Friday night.
“Pour your heart out, leave everything here on the stage and just do your best,” she said.
Hawaii News Now will broadcast the competition live on KFVE (Spectrum 22 and Hawaiian Telcom 13). The hour-long pre-show begins at 6:30 p.m. on March 15 with the competition to follow.
The event will also be streamed online at HawaiiNewsNow.com.