The story begins in 1977. Two young men met in thetown of Mākaha on the island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i.
Howard Shapiro and Michael Joao loved Mākaha’s beautiful surf, uncrowded beaches, and homegrown music. They discovered a shared passion for music, but also for pressing issues like environmental protection, human rights, Native Hawaiian rights, and hunger and homelessness.
Together they formed the band Earth, which they soon changed to ‘Āina, meaning land or earth in Ōlelo Hawai‘i, the Hawaiian language.
During the 1970s, Āina performed throughout O‘ahu at various gatherings that addressed environmental protection and Native Hawaiian rights. In 1978, ‘Āina recorded a 7-inch single for Greenpeace, entitled “Greenpeace: To Save the Whales”.
In 1980, the band entered Honolulu’s Audissey recording studio and released their only LP, Lead Me to the Garden. The resulting album is a pleasant, uplifting spiritual journey of AOR and soft rock with flourishes of Hawaiian music, reminiscent of artists like Seals & Croft, America, and Hall & Oates. Well-known Hawai‘i musicians like Nohelani Cypriano and Dennis Graue (the composers behing “Lihue”) performed on the LP.
Working directly with Shapiro, Aloha Got Soul has updated the release for 2018 with three new songs from the musician’s solo catalog to complement the album with timely messages of Native Hawaiian activism.
Today, Shapiro resides in the quiet town of Volcano, near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawai‘i Island. Sadly, Michael Joao passed away unexpectedly in the early 1990s and never got to achieve his full creative potential.