In the Winter of 2015, we pressed record for the very first time at the Omidyar K – 1 Neighborhood. Punahou Sessions was conceived as a celebration of the arts with a nod to the incredible lineage of talent that has passed through the campus. As we enter our fifth and final season, I’m proud to say that we’ve included nearly 100 students and alumni ranging from the classes of 1946 (the late, great Betty Loo Taylor) to 2022.
If you told me back then that we would launch this season during a global pandemic, I would have called you crazy. But here we are, a week before Punahou engages in a massive effort to teach 3,700 students online while the world tries to navigate an uncertain future.
Perhaps then, there is no better time to comfort ourselves with music while many of us are sequestered in our homes. For the next nine weeks, we’ll present a few minutes to pull you away from the news, and offer a moment of distraction to enjoy the sights and sounds of Ka Punahou.
If you’re a fan of “Prison Break,” “The Walking Dead” or “Colony,” you’re probably familiar with Sarah Wayne Callies ’95. Truth be told, I had no idea whether she would be interested, never mind respond, to my email inviting her to participate in Punahou Sessions. She is, after all, a big-time Hollywood actor. Fortunately, I knew some people who knew some people in the class of 1995, including guitarist Curtis Kamiya ’95, and Darin Leong ’95, our incredible mixing and mastering engineer.
I sent her an email, and was shocked to see a response within 30 minutes. She was game. I’m a little older than Sarah, so I never had the opportunity to see her perform in high school. Since I only knew her as an actor, I figured she would do a soliloquy. But it turns out, she’s got pipes! She sang in the Chorale under the direction of Dr. Dee Romines, and performed in a number of shows in Dillingham, including “The King and I” with Curtis in their senior year.
While he’s not leading his band Mango Season, which features a bevy of Punahou alumni, Curtis teaches guitar, ukulele and voice at his studio downtown. He previously shredded on the electric guitar in Season 3’s cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” but opted for the acoustic this time around.
How pro are these two? Sarah was only in Hawai’i for a hot second visiting family, so there was no time for rehearsal. Instead, they showed up a few minutes before we started taping, figured out a key, a structure, and voila!