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Stars at being human
June 1, 2011 - Rick Chatenever
One of the great parts of my job is I get to meet such interesting people.
I know it’s a cliche to say that, but the overlooked part of cliches is that they’re basically very convenient, one-size-fits-all truths.
Having covered arts and entertainment for a while now, the interesting people on my beat aren’t the usual newsmakers. Instead, they’re the ones who chose careers in the larger-than-life field. In reality, they’re not very different from other mortals — they just have to act like they are, since they carry so many projected hopes, dreams and illusions on their shoulders. It’s part of the job description.
It’s like big-wave demigod Laird Hamilton once told me: Anyone who claims to have no fear is a fool. “Courage” is the ability to tap in to your fear, and make its energy work for you.
I imagine being larger than life requires something similar. While lots of stars in our celebrity-obsessed culture try to manufacture mighty egos to face the inevitable insecurities, doubts — not to mention the temptations — in the creative process, some don’t.
They’re the ones who seem to get humbler the higher they climb. They don’t just “entertain” —they’re the ones you can learn lessons from.
Two guys who qualify—Kris Kristofferson and Keali‘i Reichel — are both performing this weekend, ironically enough, in two different benefits on the same night.
Kris is doing a solo concert at 7 p.m. Saturday in the MACC’s Castle Theater. It’s like the show he does in concert halls around the world, which sell out with the opportunity to see this iconic artist who has made his mark in both the world of music and movies singing the songs he has written over 40 years.
Only on Maui, it will have hula by Hokulani Holt and Pa‘u O Hi‘iaka, a silent auction and more — all parts of a benefit for Lokelani ‘Ohana, a program to create housing for people with developmental disabilities as an alternative to foster care.
Meanwhile, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Old Lahaina Lu‘au, Keali‘i will bring his halau to He Lei Hulu, He Lei Makamae (“A Feather Lei, A Treasured Lei”), a benefit for the Friends of Moku‘ula dedicated to the late Akoni Akana.
That’s another thing about guys like Kris and Keali‘i —they’ve wrestled their egos into submission, or maybe have amassed enough honors, so it doesn’t have to be about them anymore.
See what I mean about lessons they can teach us?
I had the opportunity to talk to both of them over the last several weeks in features that ran in the Currents section of the paper. (The stories are still fresh in the archives at www.mauinews.com.) In both interviews, it wasn’t so much a matter of catching up, but as just catching them in the midst of crazy schedules.
Kris has a bunch of movies coming out, including the family-oriented “A Dolphin’s Tale,” and the portrayal of a wandering country musician a little like himself in “Bloodworth.” He seems to be at the point in a four-decade career where every time he turns around, someone’s giving him an award for something.
Humble and humorous about the accolades, he observed, “I’d be happy whether I got ‘em or not because I’ve been doing what I love to do … Any positive feedback is nice. It’s not necessary, but it’s nice.”
Keali‘i, too, was still riding the exhilarated rush after his his Halau Ke‘alaokamaile took top honors at the 48th annual Merrie Monarch Festival … and he was inducted into the entirely separate Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame the following morning.
Right after talking to me, he was off for the East Coast, doing a series of intimate “Solo Sessions” presented by institutions like the Smithsonian and the National Geographic, where, judging by the comments on his Facebook page, audiences “got it” just like they do closer to home.
While each of them is a prodigiously talented artist in his own right, it feels inadequate to describe what they do as entertainment.
The work that they do, the things they create, come in the context of the lives that they lead —there isn’t separation between who they are, and what they do.
It’s all about the never-ending challenge of finding new ways to express that inexpressible thing we call the truth.
Just as courage can be coaxed from fear, heroism can be constructed out of flaws. Being in the presence of people who have figured that one out is truly inspiring …not to mention, it makes for a great show. • Contact Rick Chatenever at email@example.com.
• Kris Kristofferson performs in a benefit concert for Lokelani ‘Ohana beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday in the MACC’s Castle Theater. Tickets are $15, $30, $50 and $250 with a post-show meet and greet, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469, www.mauiarts.org. • Keali‘i Reichel is the special guest artist at He Lei Hulu He Lei Makamae, a tribute to Akoni Akana and benefit for Friends of Moku‘ula at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Old Lahaina Luau. Tickets are $100, table of eight are $700, available by calling 667-1998.
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Kris Kristofferson RICK CHATENEVER photo