Nawang Khechog

Grammy-nominated Tibetan flute player generates calm and relaxation during McCoy Studio visit

Tibetan flutist Nawang Khechog (above) performs in concert with Keola Beamer at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28, in the McCoy Studio Theater at Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. Tickets are $30 (plus applicable fees). For tickets or more information, visit the box office, call 242-7469 or go online to www.mauiarts.org. Photo courtesy the MACC

One of Tibet’s foremost contemporary musicians, Grammy-nominated flute player Nawang Khechog, will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28, in the McCoy Studio Theater at Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului, accompanied by Hawaiian music legend Keola Beamer.

Best known for his collaborations with Japenese recording artist Kitaro, Khechog has also performed with a range of artists including Philip Glass, Paul Simon, Richie Havens, Laurie Anderson and Maui’s Peter Kater (on the CD, “The Dance of Innocents”).

Born in Tibet, he and his family was exiled to India following the Chinese invasion in 1949, and he became a Buddhist monk, sponsored by the Dalai Lama. He lived as a hermit for four years in silent retreat in the Himalayan foothills.

Self taught on flute, he says, “It’s a small gift. I have over a dozen CDs, more than 100 songs and they all come to me naturally. I play and I do some Tibetan overtone chanting as well as Mongolian overtone chanting. I will do some chanting for universal love and compassion.”

His soothing playing is known to help generate calm and relaxation.

“It gives some kind of healing effect,” he explains. “The 21st century is very busy, people become very stressed, and they listen to my flute music and they get peace of mind, so I’m very happy. A midwife told me that she delivered 200 babies playing my music. In Seattle, my album, ‘Quiet Mind,’ is played in a hospital.

“I met a monk in India, and they have to study five very complicated texts. It’s very hard. He told me when he gets stressed out he goes into a field and plays my music on a small CD player.”

Living for a few years in Australia, Khechog arrived in America under the auspices of actor Richard Gere. Khechog calls him “my great angel.”

The award-winning actor was visiting a Tibetan store in New York one day and heard Khechog’s music playing.

“Richard really liked my music,” he recalls. “He was with the Tibet House (cultural center) in New York, and they were organizing an International Year of Tibet; he wanted to bring me from Australia. That’s how I ended up in America.”

The actor also helped Khechog some years ago in India after the car he was traveling in was hit by a truck. Two of his relatives were killed in the accident and he suffered a serious brain injury.

“My ex-wife called him, as I needed a charter flight because of my brain injury. He paid for the flight. He’s always been so kind.”

Khechog is looking forward to returning to Maui to perform with Beamer.

“I’m very excited. He’s a very legendary Hawaiian musician, so I’m really honored to play with Keola.”

The concert will also feature two films. The first is the Maui premiere of the film short, “Supermonk,” directed by Shenang Gyamjo Tamang, which won the audience award at the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival. It explores an unlikely bond between a young monk and a rebel child soldier.

The world-renowned flute player is the star of the world premiere screening of “Sound of Tibet and Peace.”

“I’m very honored to show it on Maui,” he says. “I love Maui. Richard Gere and Philip Glass are in the film talking about my life story. The Dalai Lama is also in the film. The movie is very positive about music and peace and love and compassion. I’m sure people will love it.”

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It’s another great year for Maui musicians with more than 20 of our bands and solo artists nominated for a 2019 Na Hoku Hanohano Award. Leading the pack, Na Wai ‘Eha, featuring brothers Kalanikini and Kahikina Juan, and Kamalei and Kamaehu Kawa’a, with 10 nominations for their marvelous self-titled debut album.

Also scoring high is two-time Grammy-winner Kalani Pe’a with six nominations for “No ‘Ane’i” and Na Hoa, featuring Maui’s Ikaika Blackburn, with six for “Aloha from Na Hoa.” Kalani is also featured on the Anthology-nominated album, “Songs of C&K.”

Three Maui bands are up for Reggae Album of the Year — Ekolu (also for Group of the Year), Inna Vision and Maoli. Anuhea and Cindy Paulus are both nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year, plus Cindy is up for Religious album.

Kaleo Phillips’ excellent “E Mama” got two nods — for Most Promising Artist and Instrumental Composition. No surprise that the Deborah Vial Band is nominated for Rock Album for its impressive “Giant.”

Other single nomination artists include acclaimed Kumu Hula Uluwehi Guerrero for Hawaiian Album, Conner Snow for Contemporary Album, Greg Dipiazza and Joel Katz for EP and Mondokane and Amy Hanaiali’i for Single of the Year.

Also nominated, University of Hawaii Maui College’s Institute of Hawaiian Music for Hawaiian EP and George Kahumoku Jr. for Anthology, Wesley Furumoto for Contemporary Acoustic Album and Molokai’s Paniolo Prince and His Queen Maile for Hip-Hop Album.

The 42nd annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards will take place on May 25 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.

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Multi-Hoku-nominated Na Wai ‘Eha will perform at the Celebration of the Arts free “After Hours” event at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua’s ballroom. Featuring nine original compositions and three classic covers, the group’s debut CD received a range of nominations including Album, Group, Hawaiian Album, Song of the Year and Most Promising Artist.

The show will be headlined by female trio Ahumanu, with a CD release party for its new recording “Kahi Aloha.” Hula will be presented by Halau Hula Na hanona kulike o Pi’ilani; Pa’u of Hi’iaka; Kamaluokaleihulu and Halau Kekuaokala’au’ala’iliahi.

Following the Hawaiian entertainment, Jimmy Mac & The Kool Kats will play from 10 p.m. to midnight.

For more information, call 669-6200 or visit www.celebrationofthearts.org.

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Both just nominated for Hoku Awards, legends Henry Kapono and Amy Hanaiali’i will team for a special “Artist 2 Artist” show in the MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Henry is up for Anthology of the Year for his album, “Songs of C&K,” where he teamed with an ensemble of rising stars, and for Contemporary Album of the Year for his latest CD, “Welcome 2 My Paradise.” Amy teamed with Maui musician Mondokane on the song “Pu’u Keka’a,” which is up for Single of the Year.

“I play with Henry first, then my band and I finish,” says Amy, who will be backed by Sal Godinez on piano, Marcus Johnson on upright bass and Darryl Pellegrini on drums.

• Tickets are $35, $45 and $65 (plus applicable fees). MACC members receive a 10 percent discount.

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A bunch of Maui groups, including the Hoku-nominated Deborah Vial Band, are volunteering to help Charley’s Saloon & Restaurant in Paia upgrade and repair its sound and lighting system with a special show on April 26.

Musicians donating their time include Black Cadillacs, Pat Simmons Jr., YumYum and SweetBeets, Freeradicals Projekt, Flat Jackson, B.A.D.S., Yumyumbeast and DJ Illz.

“I’m really honored by all the musician who are rallying for Charley’s,” says Owner Jonathan Herman.

• Show runs from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday, April 26. There is no cover charge, but a donation of $10 to $20 is suggested. For more information, call 579-8085.

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Last year Soul Kitchen recorded a live album at Charley’s, reflecting influences from zydeco to classic soul. With Tempa and Naor briefly returned from Oregon to front the band, Soul Kitchen just held a CD release party at the Paia club and will hold another one at Mulligans on the Blue in Wailea at 7 p.m. Sunday.

• Admission is $20 cash at the door or $15 in advance. Tickets are available at www.soulkitchenmaui.com.