James Stanley: Teaching Hawaiian Ukulele, Movement, and Culture

James Stanley is a San Diego native who was raised embracing, embodying, and sharing Hawaiian culture and arts. He is the eldest son of Kumu (Hula Teacher) Kathy Heali’i Gore Stanley, the founder of San Diego’s Heali’i’s Polynesian Revue. As such, James was immersed in Polynesian arts and began performing dance and playing the ukulele at a very young age. His love of dance and movement eventually inspired him to earn a BA in kinesiology from CSU Northridge in 2018.

Image of James Stanley performing traditional Hawaiian dance

James Stanley performing traditional Hawaiian dance

James has performed with many of Hawai’i’s music legends, including HAPA, Na Leo Pilimehana, Amy Hānaiali’i, Makaha Sons, and Kalani Pe’a. Today, James is an alakaʻi (co-leader) and kāne director (men’s director) for Heali’i’s Polynesian Revue. He pours his aloha into nurturing his family’s hālau (Hawaiian dance school) through music, dancing, and traditional practices.

We are proud to have James as a teaching artist for the CWM’s youth education program, World Music in the Schools. James engages over 900 San Diego County school children a week with Hawaiian language and traditions, ukulele, and dancing.

Image of James Stanley in a World Music in the Schools classroom

James Stanley in a World Music in the Schools classroom

James’ brother, Anthony Kauka Stanley is also a teaching artist for the School’s program. Learn more about Anthony from his profile on our website.

For Further Exploration

Watch James Stanley on stage performing Hawaiian dance to the music of the Mākaha Sons.

Anthony holding a ukulele near the ocean

Anthony Kauka Stanley

The Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools is delighted to profile teaching artist Anthony Kauka Stanley.

Anthony Kauka Stanley has been immersed in celebrating and sharing the beauty of his Polynesian culture since birth. The son of esteemed hula dancer Kumu Kathy Heali’i O Nalani Gore-Stanley, he is a pillar of Heali’i’s Polynesian Revue, his family’s halau (performing arts troupe and school), which has taught and shared the traditional island songs and dances of Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, and New Zealand since 1967.

By the age of two, Anthony had an ukulele in hand, later studying under teachers Barry Flanagan, Mikela Gore, Dr. Jason Arimoto, and continually under the mentorship of his mother.

Performing Artist

Close up of Anthony

As a full-time professional musician, Anthony shares his music locally and internationally, primarily playing acoustic Hawaiian/Polynesian music and touring with partner Keahi Rozet. His mission is to share his music outwardly, working toward a deep and broad cultural environment that enriches the community and offers a platform for youth. Anthony seeks to create music that retains its cultural qualities while bridging gaps and creating connections between people from all walks of life.

Heali’i’s Polynesian Revue

As the Music and Drum Director at Heali’i’s, he teaches Polynesian dance and music with an emphasis on tradition, history, and universal family (ohana). A devoted leader in his community, Anthony commuted from Los Angeles to San Diego to teach classes, lead community events and competitions, even while working towards a double major at Occidental College in economics and music, and also touring as a Kala Brand Music Co. sponsored ukulele artist. Seemingly always on his way to a recording session or a performance, Anthony still finds the time to collaborate on projects with organizations such as the San Diego Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic.Polynesian Dancers on a stage

Since August 2019, Anthony has been a Center for World Music teaching artist. Through singing and ukulele music, he has shared Hawaiian culture with hundreds of elementary school children in our World Music in the Schools program.

—Contributed by Erin Chan

Watch a short video of Anthony playing at a recent NAMM Convention.

Here’s Anthony’s page on the Kala Brand Music Co. site.

Follow Anthony on Instagram @anthonykauka.


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