Despite growing up surrounded by music, until he entered his 8th grade year at Kamehameha Schools Kamakana was more interested in sports (he was honored for his prowess in soccer, basketball, and football). There, for the first time, he picked up a guitar and discovered a passion for singing and songwriting. He was accepted into the prestigious Concert Glee Club as a bass, and the high caliber of the musicians there encouraged him to express himself musically.
With his song "Midnight Stones", which Kamakana said seemed to just write itself, he explores the effect of war on people. The first verse is a loosely translated version of King Kamehameha's famous speech “Imua e na Poki'i”, written during his quest to unify the islands and depicting the march to battle. The second verse is about beginning the journey home after the battle has been fought, and references Hawaiians as a voyaging people. It is also is meant to acknowledge the important work being done by the Hokule'a. (With the ugliness of war behind you, the horizon line is all that's left for you.) The third verse describes the soldiers returning home from battle, searching for comfort in their journey.
Although the lyrics are primarily in English, they incorporate many aspects of Hawaiian writing, including the idea of "kauna", or hidden meaning. Says Kamakana, "Every line in the song is a reference to more than one idea, and like a lot of my favorite Hawaiian songs, "Midnight Stones" says a great number of things while using just a few words."
"Midnight Stones" was produced by Shawn Pimental, and engineered by Pimental and Michael Grande of Studio Ala Moana. It features Kamakana on guitar and vocals; Pimental on bass, drums, and percussion; and Grande on piano and organ. Kamakana sings lead vocals, Jon and Jamaica Osorio sing backing vocals and chants.
The single will be available in digital format only on iTunes and at other outlets. In the mean time, here's a behind-the-scenes look at the making of "Midnight Stones":