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Feb 7 2024

Reggae Relations: Black and Indigenous Confluences in Hawai’i

lectures-symposia, world-music
Room B544, Schoenberg Music Building

Lecture by Sunaina Keonaona Kale (Kanaka Maoli)
UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow,
Department of Native American Studies at UC Davis

Reggae has become so normalized in Hawai‘i that it is often associated with local or Native Hawaiian people instead of Black people. Simultaneously, reggae is often not considered Hawaiian music because it does not sound “Native Hawaiian enough.” Reggae in Hawai‘i thus does not fit easily into the frameworks of authenticity and appropriation, which are often used with Indigenous and Black musics but have limitations. Indigenous reciprocal relationality is one way to look beyond those limitations: relationality keeps people radically accountable while leaving room for creativity, complexity, and futurity. I argue that Blackness is mostly invisible in reggae in Hawai‘i because Black people are not considered “fully local” there. Despite this, there have always been examples of good relations between Native Hawaiian and Black people in the scene. I exemplify my argument using general trends in Hawai‘i’s music industry and the career of a Black Jamaican reggae artist who has been active in Hawai‘i since around 1980.

Sunaina Keonaona Kale (Kanaka Maoli) is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Native American Studies at UC Davis. She holds a PhD in ethnomusicology from UC Santa Barbara. Her current book project on reggae in Hawai'i focuses on Indigenous and Black relationality and formations of Kanaka Maoli, local, and global identities in the music. Her other research interests include the intersections of food sovereignty and music in Hawai’i. She is a former Charles Eastman Fellow at Dartmouth College (2020–2022) and received the Robert Walser and Susan McClary Fellowship from the Society for American Music (2019).

Part of the Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy Colloquium Series, this event is sponsored by The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Department of Ethnomusicology, with support from the Dean of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

Like most of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s programs, this event is FREE! Register in advance for this event via the link below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.  Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Early arrival is recommended. Registrants receive priority up until 15 minutes before the event.

While Inside the Venue:

No Food or Drink allowed in the building.


This event is FREE! No RSVP required. Early arrival is recommended.


Self-service parking is available at UCLA’s Parking Structure #2 for events in Schoenberg Music Building and the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center. Costs range from $4 for 1 hour to $15 for all day. Evening rates (after 4 p.m.) are $3-$5 for 1 to 2 hours and $10 for all night. Learn more about campus parking.


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is eager to provide a variety of accommodations and services for access and communications. If you would like to request accommodations, please do so 10 days in advance of the event by emailing ADA@schoolofmusic.ucla.edu or calling (310) 825-0174.


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Food and drink may not be carried into the theaters. Thank you!


The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). As a land grant institution, we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.