Songs Without End
by Liza Simon
photo by David Boynton
Today, ukulele in hand, Aunty ‘Ane teaches similar lessons in song and daily reverence at the Hawaiian language immersion school in Kekaha on the westernmost tip of Kauai. Her students, who hail mostly from Niihau, are also featured on the CD, and its proceeds have benefited Aha Punana Leo, the grassroots-inspired movement to revive the Hawaiian language, a language that had been eclipsed by English just about everywhere up and down the Island chain.
Make that everywhere except Niihau, ‘Ane will remind you with evident pride. The Hawaiian language has flourished on the tiny island in true-to-the-roots form, she says, noting the Niihauan speaker’s retention of the "t" sound, a sound not found in any other enclave of native speakers. The CD’s success has, therefore, helped highlight the uniqueness of Hawaiian spoken without years of interruption. But most of all, says ‘Ane, the CD showcases a Niihau tradition: "Back there, we sing every day in school, also in church and also at home. There is always a song to share."