Born and raised on the island of O'ahu, Aja began playing ʻukulele at age six and guitar by age ten. Her grandfather began teaching her kī ho'alu (Hawaiian slack key guitar) when she was 12, and it quickly became her passion. Continuing to learn and be mentored by renowned Hawaiian musicians, the talented young artist has been increasingly asked to share her music, and in addition to her solo performances, has become a regular performer at slack key festivals. Hoping to one day share her culture with the world through her passion for kī ho'alu and Hawaiian music, she says she recently learned something very important: “Pono au kekuleana a e hoʻomaukaʻōlelohawaiʻi no ka mea he hawaiʻi au.” ("I have a responsibility to perpetuate the Hawaiian language because I am Hawaiian.") Taking this to heart, she set about composing more stories and songs, and the release of this, her debut album, has put her further down that path.
In keeping with the concept of Huaʻi, Aja wanted to showcase not only her ability to compose original songs, but also to arrange existing works such as "ʻĀ ʻOia!". Written by John Kameaaloha Almeida, "ʻĀ ʻOia!" is a song that pays homage to her roots. Aja wrote her own arrangement of the song, creating an introduction that is a short medley with "Take The A Train" which quickly transitions into "ʻĀʻOia!"
Hua'i was recorded primarily at Blue Planet Sound in Honolulu, with the exception of "Hula Blues" and "Mele Moemoea", which were recorded at Rainbow Studios in Burbank, CA. Aja sang all vocals and played guitar. Guest artists include: Daniel Gibson (percussion); Chris Kamaka (bass); Kapō Ku (ʻukulele); and Joe Lamano (bass).
The CD is currently available at Me Ke Aloha online, and at Na Mea (Ward Warehouse). Download versions are available on CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon.
Here are a few clips from the album: