The month of October is full of awareness. It’s filled with film premieres, events, festivals, and health awareness for many causes such as breast cancer and one specifically that I wasn’t hip to is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness. On the 22nd of October, there is a special Urban Island music festival going down in Orange Country, CA. The organization responsible for this amazing showcase of musical talent is CPW Keep The Beat Team. The team is made up of parents Sharon and Hans Wendt, and his brother Jarrod Wendt, and a few close cousins. The festival is named after young Cainaan Putuga Wendt who passed away in 2009 from sudden cardiac arrest at the tender age of 17. Kanana is the Samoan translation for the name Cainaan, hence the name of the event – Kanana Festival. In its third annual run, the Kanana Festival will be the place to be. We were able to catch up with one of the Keep the Beat team members so that she can give us more insight as to how this all evolved.
TWID: How did the Kanana Festival begin?
Desiree Atuatasi: Kanana Fest actually began back in 2009 after the passing of my cousin Kanana Wendt from sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 17, which was two weeks after his graduation. It [the fest] originated through his friends at school who decided to put on a benefit concert for my cousin Kanana’s family and all the proceeds would go to his family to help them out and everything. I was impressed with what they did and I thought, Wow, what a great way to keep Cainaan’s memory alive. So, the following year in 2010, we decided to keep the benefit concert going and this time work with the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation where all proceeds would be donated to promote cardiac arrest prevention. So, this is how it all originated – through his friends and through the passing of Cainaan in 2009.
TWID: I see that the festival is more music influenced, and so how do you integrate the music with the cause?
Desiree Atuatasi: Absolutely. Music is a big part. My cousin Kanana was a huge fan of music especially Polynesian artists. Anyone that was up and coming, especially J Boog who was his favorite artist and he had them all in his iPod. So of course, our whole family, we have a passion for music and so we made the theme “Keep The Beat” which is how we came up with our organization, CPW (Cainaan Putuga Wendt) Keep The Beat Project. And what we hope to accomplish is that we want to keep the beat through the music, which are the artists that are coming out to use their voices, use their gifts to attract the people and bring their voices and bring them in to promote awareness and to educate them on what’s going on.
TWID: Where do the ticket sales go to?
Desiree Atuatasi: All proceeds go to preventable therapies for example, such as the biggest thing that we are working on right now are the external automated defibrillators which are the heart shocking machines. Most people see that when the heart goes into cardiac arrest and they have those defibrillators that can shock the hearts back to life. And so with the proceeds, we want to purchase as many of those as we can and donate them to public places just so that they are available for emergency purposes and keep the beat going.
TWID:So, these artists are coming out to show love by donating their time for this cause?
Desiree Atuatasi: These awesome Urban Island artists are donating their time and talents to give back to this great cause.
TWID:What’s the music line-up like?
Desiree Atuatasi: We have great Urban Island music artists performing. We have Selah International’s artist Zhen, Southern California’s Trey Smoov, Dinah Jane, Gee’rage music artists and Sua. Not to mention we have Spawnbreezie coming through to show us love and most of all, our headliner of the night is Teki from the 801, and special guest Reggae music sensation Glen Washington will be in the building.
TWID: The CPW Keep The Beat team has worked really hard to organize a festival that brings not only the heat this Halloween, but promotes a cause that is dear to the heart. When people are inspired to remember the life of a loved one by giving back in his memory, the event will be a bless up affair. So, if you’re in the southern California area and are looking for a blend of R&B, Pop, Hip-Hop, Roots, Rock, and Reggae with a dash of South Pacific islander love, don’t skip this beat because the place to be is at the Kanana Festival and that to me folks is WhatItDo!
For more information on the festival, you can visit the Kanana Festival 2011 Facebook page, or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article Written by: Elizabeth Lavulo
*photos courtesy of the CPW Keep the Beat Team
*YouTube video courtesy of raggamatic