Kimié Miner takes her responsibility as a Hawaiian artist very seriously. The Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, producer and publisher, who has released four albums and, in 2018, won several regional awards — including female vocalist of the year, song of the year (for “Bamboo”) and female artist of the year — also sits on the Board of Governors for the Recording Academy and served two terms for the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts.
Furthering her advocacy, she launched the Haku Collective in 2016, a full-service music, audio, and talent production group. “I started Haku Collective because, like many other artists, I’ve heard this many times: ‘I wish I had that when I was young,'” she says. “I saw a big gap that needed to be filled. … The music world is big but it’s also pretty small, [where] everybody knows everybody. I had a job opportunity, I invited all of my friends to join it, and I started a company by artists, for artists. We’re here to lift each other up and create opportunities and resources for each other.”
The word Haku means “to weave together,” she explains. “Because when you weave many things together, it makes it stronger. So that was the moment, or the Ho‘ailona, as we call it here — a gift sent from somewhere else. We do artist management, we’re an agency, we do booking, and we also have many programs and resources that we offer to the music community. We’re trying to create more opportunities for the music here, and the musicians here, in Hawai‘i.”
Miner, whose first name is pronounced Kim-ye, is the child of parents of Hawaiian and Portuguese descent. She started early, at the age of 14, while attending the Kamehameha Schools as a boarding student on Oʻahu, where this episode of the Artist’s Den special edition, “Live From My Den,” was recorded.
There, she found inspiration listening to a variety of artists, including Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Eva Cassidy and James Taylor.
“It’s an evolution,” she says of her music. “I didn’t really understand that these things made my identity. But I really believe that because I am Hawaiian, the music coming out of me is Hawaiian and it’s not defined by one genre. It’s the tapestry of Hawai‘i and all the influences that I’ve had. So I’ve really given myself the freedom as a Native Hawaiian to create whatever I want — whatever is coming out of me.”
She credits her Kamehameha education for helping her identify her own roots. “We lived it, so it was in our na’auao — like it’s engrained in your DNA. But I didn’t realize the part of our identity and our culture as Hawaiians,” says Miner. “So coming here, and having things brought to our attention that were unique to Hawai‘i, or unique to us and our identity, was eye-opening. And being around so many other Hawaiians in that same way and then sharing our stories with each other was so cool. It helped me in discovering who I really was.”
During the pandemic, Miner had her third child which helped her realize the importance of roots. “I learned how to play ukulele when I was in 4th grade,” she recalls. “I was listening to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. It was a fun experiment where I would be singing Hawaiian songs on my ukulele and then I would try to sing a Mariah Carey song. It’s like I was saying, ‘my roots give me wings.’ I knew where I came from, I knew the music of this place, but I also loved the music of the mainland and of other places. And I loved to put them all together and sing all of them.”
Her latest album, “Hawaiian Lullaby,” is a nod to her past while but also plated firmly in the present. “My dad always wanted me to sing Mele Hawai‘i or Hawaiian music, so I did this ‘Hawaiian Lullaby’ [because] I wanted to teach my kids, my babies, how to speak Olelo Hawai‘i or Hawaiian language,” she says. “When I put out the album, my dad said to me, ‘You know, I always wanted you to sing Mele Hawaii and now you are and I don’t even know what you’re saying.’ And I was like, ‘Dad! You see? So you’re going to learn too.’ Because part of our thing was our language. Not a lot of Hawaiians can speak our language. So it was a learning and a teaching and a growing moment for our whole family.”
Watch the “Live From My Den: Hawai‘i” episode above.
This Live from My Den Special Edition is made possible by The Hawaiian Islands with additional support from Creative Industries Division – Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA).