Autor: Ana Carvalho Melo
Descendant of Isabel Emília da Conceição and Agostinho Claudiano Andrade, who in 1883 left Ponta Garça for Hawaii, singer-songwriter Kimié Miner visited São Miguel, where she learned more about her origins.
“I knew I was Portuguese, but I had never met my family from the Azores, nor did I know the language. Finally I had the opportunity to get to know this place that is part of my identity," the singer told Açoriano Oriental in an interview.
As Miner recalled, although more than a hundred years have passed since their arrival in Hawaii, her family's connection to the Azores has never disappeared, even though over the years it may have become more tenuous.
“I have many Azorean family members with whom I grew up and in our house we maintained traditions that came from Portugal. My great-grandmother spoke Portuguese, so I had this connection around me when I was a child, even though the following generations spoke less and less Portuguese,” she recalled.
Kimié Miner explained that the fact that her father was Hawaiian meant she had always had greater contact with the culture of these North American islands in the Pacific than with the Azorean. However, the desire to know more about her origins and that of her family was the catalyst for this trip.
“I wanted to know more about this part of me, my relatives who live here and their connection to this land. I already know this part of my Hawaiian heritage, but the Azorean side was missing," she said, emphasizing that she intends to transmit this legacy to her children, who stayed in Hawaii.
Being it the first time she is in the Azores, Kimié Miner did not fail to comment on what impressed her the most in the first moment of her stay. “It's all very similar, but also very different. We also have mountains, green, sea and volcanoes but they are so different, the colors are different, the plants are different", she said.
On this trip, she also took the opportunity to visit the island and pass by the house where her great-great-grandparents lived in Ponta Garça, getting to know her cousins whom she only knew from exchanging emails.
"We went to my great grandparents' house in Ponta Garça and I filmed myself there, which made me feel closer to my roots", she highlighted.
With the trip nearing its end, Kimié Miner stated that she felt richer and that it might be in her projects to make music with Portuguese influences.
“I want to learn fado and folklore music in order to understand them and be able to incorporate them into my music,” she said, adding: “I hope this experience of mine will inspire all Hawaiian-Azoreans to discover this island so that we can honor it and share all this culture with the world.”
The singer and songwriter, who in 2019 had the album “Hawaiian Lullaby” nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Regional Roots Music Album, said that this was a moment of recognition of the path she has been following.
“As islanders, we are away from the big media, so it was very difficult to get to the Grammys. My career took perhaps twice as long as that of someone on the North American continent to succeed because I was on a small island," Kimié said, stressing: "Being away brings challenges, being a woman brings challenges, but I do like challenges".
She also pointed out that being nominated for this Grammy gave her access to a platform she could use to tell her story and inspire others.
“I believe that all our stories are valuable and therefore should be told. (...) I am a mentor to other artists and singers and, if I inspire them to look for their roots, I will help them open their minds, think like citizens of the world and care about others,” she stated.
“We may come from a small community but we have to be great in our goals and in how we want to touch people,” she added.
Also during this trip, Kimié Miner performed a concert at the City Gates in Ponta Delgada, a sharing that allowed her to show the local public a little bit of who she is.
“It felt really good. Music is my language of love, and it is from it that I tell my story. So, coming here, learning the stories of my ancestors and being able to share some of my stories was exactly what I wanted,” she said.