Iha Four Sisters: In Hawai`i Again, For Our Elders

The Iha Four Sisters arrived to a breezy morning at the Honolulu International Airport.  Their brief sound check while checking the instruments they will be borrowing for the concert, gave a glimpse of a great show to be anticipated.  Their voices and emotion in the music, puts them at the top of female folk vocalists.

Watching and listening to them though, I realized that there was a down side to this group.  This quartet may be the last in their generation of traditional female vocalists who are really grass roots and share their talents from their heart and soul.  you can feel it in their music and singing.  They have so much to share besides their music, and its sad to see that there are very few, if any, who are willing to follow in their footsteps.  The younger generation seems to take this “art” as just entertainment, resulting in a show, rather than an experience.  The focus of current Okinawan entertainers seem to also be business and money.  Of course there isn’t anything wrong with that, but then the real Okinawan identity in “shimauta” may die as time goes on.  What are we to do?  Should we resolve to the easier way of just moving ahead?, or should we really work hard to preserve and pass down tradition?