2019 Music Immersive Fellows

Ali Handal is a Creative Lab Hawaiʻi - Music Immersive 2019 fellow.

Ali Handal

Los Angeles, California

Moved early on by wise and resilient women, singer/songwriter Ali Handal wore out Carole King’s Tapestry album. As a cat-obsessed six-year-old (some things never change), Ali honored her initial musical heroine by naming her very first kitten “Carole.” Over the years, the sweet melodies and lyrics penned by musical sages King, Dylan, Lennon, and McCartney captivated her. She had an epiphany when, as a teenager, she heard Led Zeppelin for the first time. Completely mesmerized by Jimmy Page’s seductive guitar riffs, Ali quit her piano lessons to pick up the guitar.

Now based in Los Angeles, Ali unleashes sultry, groove-filled songs upon live audiences, setting the stage ablaze with fiery guitar passages and soulful lyrics delivered by her powerhouse voice.  She holds her own among the ranks of fierce female performing songwriters like ani difranco and formidable guitarists such as Jimmy Page. Music Connection magazine describes her as “earthy, natural, real and loaded with talent…a singer/songwriter with something to say… a gifted artist who brings insight and intelligence to her art.” When asked about her music and stage presence, fans simply say “badass.”

Ali’s songs have been featured in numerous films and hit shows like Sex and the City, Dawson’s Creek, and iCarly. She’s toured Australia, Japan, and beyond, provided backing vocals for Neil Young, and shared the stage with songwriting legend Paul Williams as his featured vocalist. Also a published author, Ali penned Guitar for Girls (Hal Leonard), an exceptional guitar method book & CD brimming with advice for aspiring female musicians, as well as encouraging quotes and remarkable songs from female songwriters in all genres.

Ali’s fourth full-length album was released by Red Parlor Records in 2017. Her first record to be released by an outside label is a funky, rockin’ collection of songs embodying the strength and sense of humor necessary to thrive as a woman in the 21st century.  Ali is currently concentrating on writing for film & television, as well as entering pre-production for a live album to be released in late 2019.

Austin Willacy is a Creative Lab Hawaiʻi - Music Immersive 2019 fellow.

Austin Willacy

Los Angeles, California

Austin Willacy is a pop and a cappella artist who writes and records different genres for television, film, and other artists. He’s been in the industry for 26 years resulting in extensive experience collaborating with a diverse range of songwriters, DJs, and producers, as well as extensive studio experience. Austin is also an award-winning singer/songwriter with 4 CDs and 2 EPs to his name. His music has been featured on “Road Rules” (MTV), Lumina, a national Australian ad campaign, and three feature film soundtracks. From 2009–13, he wrote and licensed over 60 cues to The Sing-Off (NBC). He won a 2018 Positive Music Award for co-writing the eponymous theme song to “Thrive,” a documentary with over 85 million views worldwide. He’s appeared in Rolling Stone and has performed with icons such as Bonnie Raitt and up and newer artists like Jem, Vienna Teng, and Amos Lee.

Dondi Iannucci is a Creative Lab Hawaiʻi - Music Immersive 2019 fellow.

Dondi Iannucci

Lawai, Hawaiʻi

Dondi Iannucci is singer/songwriter born and raised on the beautiful island of Kauaʻi. While Dondi pulls inspiration from Hawaiʻi’s very distinct music culture, she strays from the traditional island sounds with her own unique style of acoustic-pop. Her music has been featured on blogs such as Rapzilla and New H2O alongside collaborator Thomas Iannucci, as well as featured on various radio stations.

Dondi studied business at Boise State University, and after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, she moved back home to pursue a career in music. She has regularly attended the Hawaii Songwriting Festival over the last several years, participating in various songwriting sessions under the mentorship of people such as David Pack of Ambrosia and Billboard-charting songwriters Richard Harris and Jason Blume.

Since moving back to Hawaii, Dondi has continuously strived to further and better her music and songwriting abilities by collaborating with a number of noteworthy artists such as hiphop producer PoetiCS, Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winning producer Ariki Foster, Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winning rapper Thomas Iannucci, and Big Island singer/songwriter (former Creative Lab participant) Ryan Higgins. Additionally, Dondi was a co-writer on two tracks of the 2018 Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning hip hop album of the year: Makana. Dondi recently released two singles, “He And I” and “One In A Million” off of her upcoming EP, One For You. She is currently doing shows around the state of Hawaii and has new music set that is set to be released throughout this year.

Drew Daniels is a Creative Lab Hawaiʻi - Music Immersive 2019 fellow.

Drew Daniels

Pahoa, Hawaiʻi

Drew Daniels, former frontman of East Coast reggae rockers Tsunami Rising, delivers a distinct take on the singer/songwriter vibe. His songs weave as if Conor Oberst, The Avett Brothers, Jack Johnson, and Bradley Nowell sat down to create straightforward, conscious music that remains healthily grounded in the human experience. Drew’s upcoming debut album, Fertility from Fire, tells his personal monomyth through honest songs that tastefully stimulate both head and heart. His poetic lyrics gracefully flow over punky folk and reggae while tapping into influences of hip hop, blues and soul.  After losing his home to the 2018 Kīlauea eruption on Hawaiʻi Island, Drew’s single, “Our New Life,” kickstarted a more meaningful musical journey that has him embracing his passion in stride with life’s natural order. His music showcases a full spectrum of emotions ranging from the pain of loss and distress to resilient hopefulness that speaks on both personal and societal levels.

Frederic Culp, Jr. is a Creative Lab Hawaiʻi - Music Immersive 2019 fellow.

Frederick Culp, Jr.

Mililani, Hawaiʻi

Frederick Culp, Jr. has a unique style that was nurtured by the soulful styles of his Motown/Los Angeles bred parents, and blended in with the unique and passion-filled culture of the Hawaiian Islands he was born into. At a young age, Frederick started out playing drums at community events, and along the way developed skills in piano, acoustic guitar, and ʻukulele. In college, he found his love for singing while studying Business Administration at Chadron State College of Nebraska. After getting his degree he came back to the islands, and has been a full time musician since 2016. Since then Frederick has played every great local venue, including the Waikiki Shell, Republik, and Blue Note Hawaii. Recently, Frederick joined sides with fellow artist Gabriel Miller to form a duo group called TWELVENOONANDMIDNITE, and dropped their fresh-sounding R&B/Alternative Soul EP Season. In the upcoming months, Frederick has plans to make a solo project that displays the other genres that make him who he is as an artist.

Geri Emata is a Creative Lab Hawaiʻi - Music Immersive 2019 fellow.

Geri Emata

Wailuku, Hawaiʻi

Daughter of keyboard wizard Gilbert Emata, Geri Emata grew up surrounded by music. Her recording releases include a co-written children’s album and guest spots on several CDs for Maui artists.  In live performance she has been featured her not only as a singer-songwriter, but also as an emcee, an aerial acrobat, and a dancer. Her first single release, “Sugar Rush,” is currently in rotation on Maui radio.

Karlie Goya is a Creative Lab Hawaiʻi - Music Immersive 2019 fellow.

Karlie Goya

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi

Growing up in Hawaii, Karlie Goya was introduced to the ‘ukulele at a young age and quickly fell in love with the little four‐stringed instrument. At the age of 17 she has already won numerous ‘ukulele/vocal competitions such as the prestigious ‘Ukulele International Contest, Duke’s Ukes, and the 2015 Brown Bags to Stardom. Karlie has also been credited for her songwriting, winning the Hawaii Book & Music Festival Songwriting Competition and selected as a semifinalist for the 2018 International Songwriting Competition.

In 2016 Karlie released her debut EP album titled Till The End, which consists of all original compositions that feature the unique sound of the ‘ukulele, creating her own style of “Pop‐R&B‐Island.” Honolulu Star‐Advertiser columnist John Berger noted, “Karlie’s voice is captivating. Her lyrics describe emotional situations teens and adults of all ages can relate to. Her arrangements give the songs a mainstream pop sound worthy of national radio play.”

In 2018 Karlie produced and engineered her first full‐length album titled “Have Fun.” The album received a 2019 Na Hoku Hanohano award for “R&B album of the year.” Karlie has quickly become known as a creative ‘looping’ artist, where she uses effect pedals during live performances effectively creating a one‐girl band. She covers a wide variety of artists and genres and has attracted a dedicated following on YouTube.

The ‘ukulele is synonymous with Hawaii and its rich music culture. Karlie continues to immerse herself in the tradition, and at the same time, she’s also growing and evolving as a musician incorporating the ‘ukulele into her style of mainstream pop and R&B.

Nikki Yamamoto is a Creative Lab Hawaiʻi - Music Immersive 2019 fellow.

Nikki Yamamoto

Kapolei, Hawaiʻi

Nikki Yamamoto got her start in music at the young age of three under the direction of Mr. Ronald Bright. She performed in musical theatre all throughout middle and high school, and began professionally singing at 16. Inspired by the likes of Sara Bareilles, Regina Spektor, Of Monsters and Men, and Lorde, she found her niche covering mainstream artists’ songs by rearranging them into acoustic versions on piano. Eventually this led Nikki to her true passion of writing and composing her original music. She has performing professionally since 2015. In 2018 Nikki took her collection of songs and began recording her first project partnering with her producer Imua Garza. Her EP, titled Minus Actually Me, will be released June 21, 2019.

Sierra Blax is a Creative Lab Hawaiʻi - Music Immersive 2019 fellow.

Sierra Blax

Kauaʻi/Honolulu, Hawaiʻi

Sierra Blax is a pop/soul singer from Kauai who graduated from University of Hawaii in 2015 with a major in music. Being raised and surrounded by the sandy beaches and gloomy days of the rainy seasons, she emulates the elements of an island girl through the innocence of her tone and body language. As a listener, her lyrics & melodies take you on a cinematic journey of rebellion and unrequited love. Her newest single, “Just For Now,” was inspired by the idea of “being young and in love,” an expression of youth. Now currently residing in Los Angeles, Sierra has taken new steps into furthering her songwriting career by collaborating with different producers throughout her journey. Her newest song “Loose Canon,” which describes feelings of anxiety and pain living in LA, will be released in mid July 2019, followed by an EP album by the end of this year.

Shani Rose is a Creative Lab Hawaiʻi - Music Immersive 2019 fellow.

Shani Rose

Los Angeles, California

Shani Rose​ is an award-winning songwriter and a “Pop/rock songstress with a Soulful Crunch.” She has a unique way of combining her acoustic coffeehouse bravado with hook-laden, anthemic sounds to create pop gems for her solo and duo projects, as well as when writing for other artists. The Los Angeles native started playing piano at the age of 7, and continued her studies as the pianist in her high school jazz band, and later as a music major (songwriting/composing) at University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.

Shani’s songwriting has won 2 finalist awards (one in the sync category) and 4 semi finalist awards in the International Songwriting Competition (2016-19), out of 16k applicants in 137 countries. In February 2019, her song “Right Now” (co-written by Ovi Jacobsen) competed in the Finals of the Romanian Eurovision Selection. Released and performed by artist Olivier Kaye, the song performance was nationally televised and made its way up the charts on national radio in Belgium, Germany, and Romania. Shani has also written with collaborators that are responsible for producing and/or writing for artists such as Ingrid Michaelson, OneRepublic, Christina Perri, and Rascal Flatts.

Shani plays regularly as a featured performer at Universal Citywalk, Downtown Disney, and local hotels and resorts.  You can often see her with her unique setup: singing with her guitar, piano, foot tambourine, and vocal harmonizer.  Her music (and her duo Roseport’s music) has also garnered over 15 TV/film and ad placements this past year for clients such as MTV, Apple, CMT, Freeform, and WB.