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Native Hawaiian Singer Kamalei Kawa'a Cried During His Powerful "The Voice" Audition, And Someone Please Hand Me A Tissue

This week, Native Hawaiian singer Kamalei Kawa'a wowed the judges during his blind audition on The Voice.

Kamalei playing guitar and singing on stage with spotlights in background

As a Samoan woman, I am so proud to see a talented Pacific Islander killing it on a national stage!

NBC

He gave a powerful rendition of Bob Marley and the Wailers' "Redemption Song" that had Chance the Rapper turning around during the first line.

Chance the Rapper in his signature cap and jacket on The Voice, pressing button with artist performing in background
NBC

Reba also turned, looking captivated as she watched the end of the performance.

Reba in sparkling top sitting in a judge's chair on a talent show set
NBC

"Aloha mai kākou," Kamalei said before introducing himself as a 26-year-old from Paukukalo, Maui.

Kamalei  with a microphone singing and playing an acoustic guitar on stage
NBC

"Doing 'Redemption Song' in front of millions of people — it brought something out of me," Chance said. "It's a very radical song, and it means a lot to all oppressed peoples around the world. And I think having you on here and representing Pacific Islanders, indigenous people, Hawaiians, people around the world, I think it's really important to have on the show."

Chance the Rapper in a jacket and cap, sitting in a red chair on 'The Voice'
NBC

Kamalei said his goal is "to represent all Native people." With tears in his eyes, he continued, "I get emotional talking about it. My favorite line from the song is 'Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.' That's what we need to hear today. Don't let those chains hold you down."

Kamalei performing on stage with microphone and ukulele
NBC

"It's up to us to holomua, as we say in Hawaiian, to move forward and emancipate yourselves."

Kamalei stands with guitar in front of American flag background, appearing emotional
NBC

For those who don't know, the Kingdom of Hawai'i used to be an independent nation. After US troops overthrew Queen Lili'uokalani in 1893, the kingdom was illegally annexed in 1898 — despite some Congress members pointing out it was unconstitutional.

Today, a disproportionate number of Native Hawaiians are pushed into homelessness and out of their ancestral lands while the wealthy swoop in and purchase thousands of acres. From the Navy poisoning drinking water in the Red Hill water crisis to the years-long battle against the Thirty Meter Telescope while spiritual and cultural beliefs were disregarded to the government's failure following the devastating Maui fires, Native Hawaiians have faced countless disasters at the hands of the US. I absolutely love Kamalei's message to push forward and keep fighting the good fight.

"That song touched my heart," Reba said. "I knew that I had heard it before, but not like the way you sang it. It's something about you being so proud of your heritage and carrying on the ways of your people that it just came through in that song. It was very spiritual to me."

Closeup of Reba McEntire
NBC

Kamalei ended up choosing Team Chance, and I'm here for it!

Closeup of Kamalei and Chance the Rapper hugging on "The Voice"
NBC

And I wasn't the only one moved by his performance. Tons of people showed their love in the comments:

Screenshot of comments about Kamalei's performance
NBC's The Voice / Via tiktok.com

You can watch the full audition here:

Congratulations on an incredible performance, Kamalei! I'm rooting for you!