Fueled by her intrinsic connection to the Hawaiian ecosystem, Amy H¨¡naiali¡®i¡¯s reputation as one of Hawai¡®i’s top-selling female vocalists is rooted in her family’s lineage.

For this episode of ¡°Live From My Den,¡± H¨¡naiali¡®i visits the beautiful landmarks of Waimea. ¡°I¡¯m here in Waimea right now because my learning, my songwriting, my learning in my spiritual realm, through dreams and through composing music, is even deeper now that I¡¯m here in this Wahi Pana because my K¨±puna, my ancestors, come from here way, way, way back,¡± she says. ¡°So it¡¯s just getting deeper and deeper and deeper.¡±

The singer has been nominated for six Grammys in the best Hawaiian music album and best Native roots music album categories. She also sits on three boards focused on supporting arts and culture — the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Hawai¡®i Academy of Recording Arts and Hui O Wa¡®a Kaulua — exercising her dedication to her community. ¡°I believe that Native arts are so important to keep all of our cultures alive. Not just that, but the prayers to keep the world alive. It all kind of works hand and hand,¡± she explains.

H¨¡naiali¡®i is the proud granddaughter of Hawaiian superstar Jennie H¨¡naiali¡®i Na?pua Woodd, who was one of the original Royal Hawaiian girls at the famed Pink Palace, which was a Hollywood staple in the Hawaiian-themed movies of the 1940s and ¡®50s. Because of her lineage, her attention to Hula and singing came at the early ages of three and four. ¡°I don¡¯t think I really had a choice,¡± she says. ¡°But certainly, it¡¯s my passion now.¡±

¡°For myself as a composer and songwriter, [Hula] brings my songs to life because the person watching who doesn¡¯t ?olelo Hawaiian, who doesn¡¯t speak Hawaiian, can understand what I¡¯m singing about a little more. My grandmother ¡­ was one of the pivotal people to leave Hawai¡®i back in the early 1930s to go to New York City and travel the world. Every time I think I was the first person in my family there, my grandmother had already been there.¡±

Woodd traveled from Hawai¡®i to New York City to help open the famous Hawaiian Room at the Lexington Hotel. She resided in Jackson Heights and had a long list of famous neighbors and friends, including Marlon Brando, Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier, Billie Holiday and Doris Duke. ¡°Everybody hung out at the Hawaiian Room because Prohibition had just ended so you had all First Nation cultures coming in through New York, through Ellis Island. My grandmother said the food was unbelievable.¡±

From learning how to Hula to receiving Leo Ha¡®iha¡®i (falsetto) training and strict pronunciation lessons, at the core of it all is Woodd and the crew of elders who taught H¨¡naiali¡®i everything she knows. ¡°Auntie Genoa Keawe, who is a legend of Hawaiian music, Auntie Leina?ala Haili, Auntie Kealoha Kalama. These are aunties that taught me how to sing this style privately. And on stage, too, but mostly privately. You can¡¯t learn that in school. You have to learn it from the old-timers.¡±

Her 15th studio album, ¡°Kalawai¡®anui,¡± is centered around the idea of personal evolution as she¡¯s ¡°always trying to grow. I¡¯m a huge genealogist in my family. ¡­ I find it very fascinating. What was my K¨±puna doing in the 1800s on the backside of Molokai and then in Norway? How would they ever know that I¡¯m here now?¡±

On top of evolving as a musician (she says she¡¯s ¡°always working on new music¡±), her ventures in various industries — including wine and fashion — keep her business acumen in tip-top shape. But, of course, she always maintains familial roots. Her most recent focus has been composing music for her cousin¡¯s clothing line, which at the time, she had just finished premiering at New York Fashion Week.

In reflection of her grandiose career, H¨¡naiali¡®i jokes that she hopes her Hawaiian has gotten better, but again, expresses gratitude for the people and artists who supported her during her early career. ¡°I¡¯m very meticulous in the studio now, as opposed to when I was younger,¡± she says. ¡°I think my chops are better, my ears are better.¡±

Watch the full video above.

This Live From My Den Special Edition is made possible by The Hawaiian Islands with additional support from Creative Industries Division – Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA).