Beauty and the Beat
What you need to know about Anuhea
She’s a beautiful girl. So it’s no surprise that Anuhea, born and raised on Maui, ran for Miss Maui 2006. Consequently, she won Miss Congeniality—also not a shocker—and second runner-up to the crown. But what is surprising is the fact that she was so happy she didn’t win.
“I’m not a pageant girl at all,” she said. “But I had to raise money, speak eloquently, have an opinion on issues… and I knew it would all be good for my career in the long-run.”
She knows what she wants. After prep school, Anuhea got a full ride to Chapman Film School for video production. She went to school for a year but realized it wasn’t what she was passionate about. So she gave up the scholarship from the Hawai’i Association of Broadcasters and taught herself to play guitar.
She’s a girl who likes challenges. Which is why, when she returned home, she said goodbye to friends and family, and moved to San Francisco. By this time, Anuhea knew she wanted to make music. But she knew nobody there and for a while, she was homeless. During the day, she worked three jobs. At night, she said she’d sometimes have to wait hours to play a few songs at an open mic somewhere.
“It made me realize how small I am,” Anuhea said. “There are so many people there who do what I do, that I have to try that much harder, make a huge extra effort to be more unique. And it really comes down to being yourself.”
She’s proud of her island roots and wants to honor that. She comes from a long line of Kamehameha School alumni, and her aunty is a member of the popular contemporary Hawaiian trio, Na Leo Pilimehana. Although she doesn’t want to be limited to the Hawaiian music genre, she wants to be a part of a new generation melding the melodic traditions of her island upbringing with modern beats and influences.
She loves hip-hop. Well, there was her duet with Travis McCoy of New York hip-hop band (and MTV darlings), Gym Class Heroes. While she was living in San Francisco, McCoy heard her acoustic version of his track, “Viva La White Girl” and before she knew it, Anuhea was whisked off to L.A. to record the song with him.
Currently, she’s recording some of her own songs with the San Francisco hip-hop group, The Evolutionaries, for her debut album that will eventually be distributed by OneHawaii Music. The music deftly blends Anuhea’s soulful vocals and acoustic guitar playing, with jazzy breaks and smooth lyrical rhymes.
She has a song for everything. One time, when she was in the city, her car was broken into and her laptop stolen, along with all of her promotional materials. She cried like a baby. And then she wrote the song, “Fly.”
“I could drink, smoke, beat somebody up,” she said. “But writing songs is a better outlet for my emotions.”
She’s on the positive freak flow. My conversation with Anuhea was peppered with references to inspirational speeches by Nelson Mandela and excerpts from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist . Even her MySpace blog reads like an affirmation from Chicken Soup for the Anti-Beauty-Pageant-Turned-Songwriter Chick Soul :
“I encourage you to think about your life, your goals, and realize what exactly it is that’s preventing you from achieving them. It’s probably yourself. And frankly, that’s just dumb. That idea is the inspiration for my song ‘Endlessly.’ ‘You trust that you won’t make it, ‘cause you hate to make mistakes and your life has been nothing but struggles in this silly rat race… But on and on, endlessly you try.’ And keep trying, you! Keep focused on your goals and thinking positive. The power of the mind is amazing. (I’m telling this to myself, too…)”
She plays every Tuesday, 10 p.m. at Charley’s in Paia.
For more info or to order your copy of her 10-track demo, visit Anuhea online at www.MySpace.com/anuheajams . MTW