From left to right: Randy Morris and Melissa Lum from EFC, Jaynie Fu, Emma Waters, Cedric Clinton, Taylour Chang, Punahele, Rukka, Scott Ohtoro, Navid Najafi

Four months ago, Punahou and ‘Iolani High School students Jaynie Fu and Emma Waters founded their own charitable organization, HeARTbeats, and set out to raise funds for HoMA’s Soundshop program. Last week, they presented a check for over $30,000 dedicated to the museum’s hip-hop music education program.

“We were honored to have been able to work with EFC and to receive this donation that will allow us to deepen student engagement on Oʻahu and the neighboring islands. We are so excited for the support as it allows us to envision new ways that the program can grow,” says Taylour Chang, Curator of Film and Performance. 

Since the program began in 2013, Soundshop has provided a platform for over 5,000 high school students to express themselves through the exploration and creation of hip-hop music under the guidance of local artists, including Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winning musicians Punahele and Navid Najafi. Soundshop’s aim is to inspire and challenge students to cultivate their own unique voice through lyrics and beats, and it’s grown in popularity: the program has seen increased demand from schools on Oʻahu as well as from the outer islands.

Soundshop mentor Navid Najafi states, “Our demand has always been much greater than we can supply. More funding will allow us to do more workshops and allow us to reach out to the other islands.” 

The mentors in the program, mostly comprised of the same group of artists since Soundshop’s beginning, explain that the effects of this workshop have reached further than they had ever expected.

“We have students from Wai‘anae that see themselves in teachers like Rukka and Punahele, who are from that side of the island, and they feel that connection. Just being shown an example of what is possible, is huge,” explains Soundshop mentor Cedric Clinton.

“My hope for Soundshop is that every student that’s having a hard time, or really passionate about music, can come here and be taught by these mentors,” adds HeARTbeat’s Jaynie Fu, “They can relate to their backgrounds and say ‘If I came from a hard background, I can bring myself out of it—because now I have this outlet, too.’”

With Soundshop providing a unique artistic outlet for students, Najafi explains that the workshop has encouraged students to share their inspiration with the community. “You have students who went through Soundshop, who are now in the community as musicians. The impact that [this program] could have on the local artist community is immeasurable.”


Note to educators: Interested in having your class participate in Soundshop? For more information or to register, contact Curator of Film and Performance Taylour Chang at gro.muesumululonohnull@gnahct.