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On the Rise
Mele Program

The ON THE RISE (OTR) Program is committed to uplifting emerging musicians in Hawaiʻi as they embark on their journeys as professional entertainers.

By fostering community partnerships and leveraging resources, this program delivers mentorship, meaningful employment, and performance opportunities to budding artists.

In its expansion slated for 2024, the program will introduce workshops and seminars aimed at cultivating a comprehensive understanding of diverse facets of music and business. This includes areas such as songwriting, marketing, self-promotion, stage presence, and performance skills.


Next Event:

July 2024




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Image by Malte Michels

Upcoming OTR Artists

Next Date: July 2024

Image by Malte Michels

Previous OTR Artists


Brother and sister musical duo Paul and Jasmine Dunlap are from the island of Oʻahu; their family is deeply rooted on the island's east side in a little town called Waimanalo, known as God’s country. Growing up in Waimanalo, they have spent much time immersed in Hawaiian culture, dancing hula and playing Hawaiian music with their dad and his side of the family.


In 2010, with 2015 Miss Aloha Hula Jasmine Kaleihiwa taking the lead on vocals and Paul on Guitar, they launched their musical career as the duo Kaiona, adopting a name from a beautiful, well-known beach in Waimanalo. Committed to continuing their family legacy, they have expanded their repertoire, performing a variety of music to include traditional & contemporary Hawaiian, Country, Reggae, Classic Rock, Pop, and Top 40. They are passionate about music and love to entertain!

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Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award Nominated duo Kailua Moon was formed in 2016 by Hawaiߵi-born slack key guitarist Danny Carvalho and singer/songwriter-kumu hula,  Nani Carvalho from Ventura, California.


Since its inception, They have toured across the United States, sharing Hawaiian music and culture up through 2020, evolving into a full band that fuses contemporary Hawaiian classics with country, Americana, and rock and roll of the ‘70s. Since then, Kailua Moon has created an in-studio livestream that increased their fanbase worldwide. Danny and Nani continue to perform live daily at top venues across Oߵahu.

Alx Kawakami


Alx Kawakami has made his way around the world, playing music for audiences who have continued to support him as his professional career approaches the 15-year mark. Alx has made a name for himself with his songwriting and energetic live performances, along with his ability to compose and sing catchy jingles and theme songs for such companies as McDonald's, Forever Living (Japan), Suntory Premium Malts Beer (Japan), the Hawai`i Tourism Authority, and Waiola Coconut Water, leading to nominations for various awards for his songwriting and studio engineering.

While living in Los Angeles from 2014-2016, Alx had the chance to work with Grammy Award-winning producer Ken Caillat (Fleetwood Mac), who likened Alx's voice to James Taylor and began to call him the "Hawaiian James Taylor." Along with Taylor, Alx associates his music with many artists like John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Crosby Stills and Nash, and The Eagles, to name a few. Alx prides himself on always being a professional and adapting to any situation to make sure his audience has a great time.



Matt Krahula is On the Rise in Hawaiʻi as a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and producer who relocated from New York City to Oʻahu in search of inspiration and quickly found that Hawaiʻi was just what he needed. Krahula started his musical career at the Purchase Conservatory of Music, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Classical Music Performance on Upright Bass, studying under Timothy Cobb (principal bassist of the New York Philharmonic). As founder of The Nightmare River Band, their sophomore album established Krahula as one of the top up-and-coming writers in the scene, opening slots for The Last Bandoleros, The Legendary Shack Shakers, Robert Ellis, Tokyo Police Club, and many more. The single -“Mary” was nominated for an Independent Music Award, and the album had features in American Pickers, Say Yes to The Dress, Pawn Stars, NHL Broadcasts, and 9-1-1. Once on Oʻahu, Krahula landed a spot playing bass and singing with legendary Grammy-Nominated Hawaiian musician Henry Kapono. Since then, Matt splits his time performing as a solo artist, bassist, and studio musician. His quirky brand of Alt-Folk Americana has him performing with Henry Kapono, Tavana, Hook and Line, Seven Pairs of Iron Shoes & Johnny Helm. His work as a studio musician most recently took him to Hollywood, where he was the upright bassist/music consultant on the EMMY Nominated Score for HBO’s Station 11.


Jenny Yim was born and raised in Hawaiʻi, surrounded by music. Her father and his brother played music together, and she became inspired, making up songs immediately as a toddler, writing her first fully formed songs around the age of 6 or 7. Jenny has a full, husky tone to her singing voice that she effortlessly melds with a clear, high falsetto. It’s very much her own subtle indie sound and style. 


Feeling blessed to be able to share her music, she has been significantly influenced by stories and things that people go through, their resolutions, and turning them into a song they can relate to…songs about feelings that are difficult to put into words. Her goal in life is to help people through her music and inspire people to be nicer to each other.

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Ryan Perez is “On the Rise,” creating music dedicated to “elevate the mind, body, spirit, and soul, helping me be the best iteration of myself.” Raised between North Carolina and Hawaiʻi, Ryan’s initial passion was sports, earning some of the highest amateur golf titles in the state of Hawaiʻi, including his most prized title of Hawaiʻi's #1 Amateur Golfer in 2009 and a full golf scholarship at U.H. However, when a friend reached out for help with his company, Ryan found his passion for music and started playing live gigs. Ryan took this new-found passion with him as he served eight years in the U.S. Coast Guard, booking entertainment gigs in each area he was stationed. Performing became addictive, and today, Ryan plays across Oʻahu. Audiences are drawn to the positive energy and healing message in his Reggae, Soul, and R&B musical style.



Drew Henmi is a Na Hoku Hano Hano-nominated singer-songwriter and producer from Honolulu, HI. In addition to performing on stages from Hawaii to Japan, his music has been featured on campaigns for brands including Levi’s and Steve Madden and on a wide range of critically acclaimed TV shows across major US networks, including ABC, CBS, and TNT.A singer-songwriter at heart, his sound has been described as hard to constrain within the usual genre categories but strikingly personal and authentic. Drew’s most recent EP, “Begin Again,” is a great example of his sonic vision, marking a unique step forward for this artist, whose sound is becoming increasingly more personal and defined, one release at a time. His music has been featured in multiple publications, including being named Music Insider's "Artist of the Month" in Dec. 2020.

Image by Malte Michels

About HKF Founder & Legendary Musician



Henry Kapono rose to immense popularity with the phenomenon of Cecilio & Kapono (aka C&K) as half of the duo with Cecilio Rodriguez. They helped forge the sound of ‘70s Island music with laid-back contemporary rock that voiced the feelings of an entire generation in Hawai‛i. Today, he is one of Hawai‘i’s most popular recording artists and presides over Kapono Inc, one of Hawai`i's top multi-function entertainment companies.  Kapono is equally known for his community support and philanthropic endeavors, launching the Henry Kapono Foundation in 2018, whose mission is to "Support the music and arts community and by giving with AlohaTo Support and Empower Hawai'i's Music Industry to Thrive Through Programs, Grants, Education & Resources.”  Native Hawaiian Kapono is a Grammy-nominated, multiple award-winning singer and songwriter and the winner of 21 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards (Hawai‛i’s “Grammy's"). He has been honored with the public vote of the 2021 Favorite Entertainer of the Year. 



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All seating at Manoa Valley Theatre is now assigned. Please arrive no later than 10 minutes before the showtime to allow for proper check in.


Welcome back to Manoa Valley Theatre, enjoy the show!

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