Lanialoha is a native Hawaiian born and raised in the Chicago area and third generation descendant of the first Polynesians who migrated to the Midwest. Her Grandmother, understanding the dearth of Pacific Island cultural and musical resources available in the Midwest, left Hawai`i and came to live with her family in Buffalo Grove to ensure the knowledge of our culture, hula, and music was not lost in our generation. She structured her lessons of Hawaiiana in the ‘old way’ – spending an initial fifteen years instilling Hawaiian values within me, before passing on her knowledge she accumulated over a lifetime to me. Lanialoha simultaneously pursued academic music studies at Buffalo Grove High School, VanderCook College and the University of Southern Colorado, toward a music education degree. After completing her academic studies, she pursued studies with master teachers of other pacific island cultural arts with an emphasis on repertoire. She toured as a performing artist in the venues these master teachers performed in, earning their respect and a place as their student.
Her continuing work as a professional performing artist in forms of music and dance encompassed chanting, vocal work, instrumentation characteristic to both Western and Pacific Island cultural arts, and education. It was ultimately the `ukulele that proved to best serve her musical mission of realigning the Western world’s perception of Pacific Island music. She has traveled nationally and internationally, educating audiences at `ukulele festivals, workshops, and concert performances. Her work as an artist and advocate for the Pacific Island arts has been featured on NPR, WBEZ, Solid POI Radio, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Reader, Where Magazine, CAN TV, WTTW, KOCH-TV, and Chicago’s local broadcasting stations. Throughout her fourteen year residence at the Old Town School of Folk Music, she has taught hundreds of `ukulele students, refining her curriculum and cultivating a new generation of musicians with a refined sensitivity to the culture bridging the Midwest to the islands through shared repertoire. Lanialoha continues to perform and teach, hopeful that an appreciation will develop and augment the cultural literacy of those unfamiliar with Pacific Island repertoire.