Napua was born and raised on the island of Maui. She was born Jaye Nakasone, named after her father, Jay Nakasone. Napua’s mother is none other than long time entertainer, Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey. Napua attended public schools, Pukalani Elementary School and Kalama Intermediate School before she was accepted to Kamehameha Schools for her freshman year in high school. She was born into the Hawaiian music scene as she would often tag along with mom to gigs and was of course, the youngest dancer in the show! Her name, “Napua”, is a shortened version of her middle name, Kawai’alaka’oionapuaopi’ilani, passed down to her from her grand aunt, Napua Stevens.
It was on the heights of Kapalama at Kamehameha Schools that Napua received formal vocal and choral training. She describes her freshman year as being very scary and intimidating for a teenager from UpCountry, Maui. But she found music to be a source of comfort while she was away from her ‘ohana and her island of Maui. Napua names Les Ceballos, Randie Fong, Wayne Chang, Holoua Stender, and Nu’ulani Atkins as her greatest influences in music and hula during her impressionable teenage years.
As a dancer, Napua has trained under the direction of kumu hula Hokulani Holt-Padilla, and graced the illustrious Merrie Monarch stage as an olapa for kumu hula Johnny Lum Ho. In recent years, she has distinguished herself as a kumu hula as well, of Maui’s Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka. From her days as a dedicated dancer, to her rigorous `uniki training to be a kumu hula, the road to success has been filled with challenges she has met with poise and vigor. She has managed to maintain her traditional roots while also evolving as an individual, a kumu, and an entertainer.
Napua began teaching at Kamehameha Schools Maui campus in 2005 and added school teacher to her growing list of kuleana. She is the cultural person on the middle school campus. Last school year she also took on another teaching position at Seabury Hall, another prestigious private school on the island of Maui.
In 2006 Napua embarked on the journey of her first solo recording project. “Pihana” was released in August of 2007. This debut recording from Napua Greig received 6 nominations at the Na Hoku Hanohano Music Awards and Napua won the “Best Female Vocalist” award for her debut project. Wayne Harada of the Honolulu Advertiser wrote, “Make room for this kumu-turned-songbird on the awards mantle; hers is a refreshing and remarkable debut.” Desiree Cruz of the Honolulu Weekly said, “Greig makes an impressive debut, sure to be a major contender at the 2008 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. Make way as Napua Greig takes her place amongst the best and brightest in Hawaiian music.”
Shortly after the release of Pihana, in August 2007, Napua met a man that she describes as being “better than the man of my dreams”. On July 4th, 2009 she married Andrew Makua, thus the name change from Napua Greig to Napua Makua. Although some questioned why the Kumu Hula/Songstress would change her name and perhaps confuse her audience, Napua had her own reasons for making this change. She explains, “One of the most important roles I have is that of being a wife and companion. I wanted to honor my husband and the ‘ohana that raised him to be such a wonderful man. To do this I felt it important to carry the inoa of his family.”
If you ask Napua what her most important kuleana in this life is, without hesitation she will tell you it is that of being a mother. She has two daughters, Kala’iakea and Ka’ilihiwa Greig. These two girls are her whole world. They are the spitting image of their mother and if you engage them in conversation, you will find they possess many of her character traits as well. When asked how she manages to accomplish all she does, being a Kumu Hula, school teacher, recording artist, and Mommy, Napua responds that it is Kala’iakea and Ka’ilihiwa that drive her to do all she can in this life. “ I want them to see that with hard work and commitment, they can accomplish anything. I want them to know who they are by understanding where and who they came from. I can only teach by example, I want to be the best I can be to give them the best example I’m capable of.”
Coming up next: Look for Napua’s sophomore release in stores late August. Entitled “Mohalu”, it promises to be a wonderful extension of her creativity and talent.