Pulama is the vocal/guitar duo of Jim Romano and Paula Kauapalauki Rudman.
They sing and play the music of Hawai‘i in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The word “pulama” means “torch” in the Hawaiian language. It also means to care for, cherish, treasure and save.
When slack-key guitarist Jim Romano and singer Paula Kauapalauki Rudman met by chance at a healing conference in 2003 after years of living in the same neighborhood, they discovered a shared love of Hawai`i and Hawaiian music. “We started singing – and doing healing – together that first day.”
Performances for local audiences soon followed. They are beloved for their beautiful, meticulous versions of Hawaiian mele as well as for the creativity and aloha they bring to all their music.
People frequently say it is rare to find two voices that blend so beautifully, and one listener remarked that Pulama’s music is “like velvet for the heart.”
Paula Kauapalauki Rudman - Vocals
Paula was brought up, and began singing, in the American folk tradition of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Theo Bikel and Jean Ritchie. She was named for Paul Robeson, the great African-American singer, actor and political activist. While her musical taste is extremely wide-ranging, key influences later included American and British Isles folk and folk rock artists ranging from The Byrds to Jean Redpath, The Incredible String Band and Steeleye Span.
She first set foot on the Big Island of Hawai‘i about twenty years ago, and “it was both a homecoming and a revelation to finally be in this place where ‘aina and moana are sacred and there is no separation between the spiritual and the everyday.” She immediately fell in love with Hawaiian music, beginning with the Sunday Manoa and Gary Haleamau.
Her work as a subtle-energy healer and her love for the Big Island led her to study with Lanakila Brandt, the kahuna of the heiau at Pu‘uhonua o Honaunau, and later with other Hawaiian kupuna and healers. Meanwhile, she became one of the first members of Na Leo Nahenahe, San Francisco’s a capella Hawaiian chorus, “so I wouldn’t be too homesick for Hawaiian music when I was on the mainland.”
Her involvement with the local Hawaiian community in northern California increased when she met her close friend Pili (teacher, healer and musician Lyn ‘Unihipiliowailelepualu Moreno Hilliard), to whom she owes much of her knowledge of Hawaiian ‘olelo and mele. Pili later gave her the Hawaiian name Kauapalauki (the rain that strikes the ti leaves), which he received as an inoa po (a name that comes in a dream). Then, in 2003, Jim Romano, a longtime neighbor she’d never met, came by to give her a ride to a Reiki master class they were both attending. “My immediate reaction when I opened my front door and saw him standing there is best conveyed by his beautiful ki ho‘alu tune, Lilo Loa I Kou Maka. We started singing – and doing healing– together that first day.”
Jim Romano - Guitar and Vocals
Born and raised in California, Jim began playing guitar at the age of 10. He grew up playing rock, blues, classical guitar and a little jazz.
In the early 1970’s, Jim was introduced to “ki ho‘alu” (the style of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar).He has been playing mostly Hawaiian music since 1989, drawing on a blend of traditional and other musical elements in his arrangements and original compositions.
“I love the rich, full sound of the guitar in open tuning. Using the thumb and fingers to play the bass lines, chords and melody in a variety of tunings transforms the guitar into a wonderfully creative solo instrument".
Jim and his wife, Tracy, live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have been going to Hawai‘i every year or two since 1989.
“We fell in love with the islands, the people, the culture and the Aloha Spirit.
My ear was already tuned to the music and soon our house was full with the sounds of Gabby Pahinui, Aunty Genoa Keawe, Israel Kamakawiwa‘ole, Keola Beamer, Dennis Kamakahi and Ozzie Kotani.”
“The music of Hawai‘i filled the air and our hearts. We joined a halau, danced hula and made our own dance costumes. We were married on Maui, and we go back to Hawai‘i almost every year. It always feels like coming home and the music keeps us connected when we are away.”
Also a healer, Jim has been working as a massage therapist since 1987, blending massage styles with Polarity Therapy and Reiki healing energy work.
He uses the “relaxing sounds of slack key guitar and Hawaiian music” in his work “to soothe, heal and restore.”
Jim plays guitar and sings with Paula kauapalauki Rudman in the Hawaiian music duo, Pulama.
“I met Paula in 2003. We drove from Albany to Danville together to attend a Reiki Master Class. We listened to ki ho'alu all the way to Danville. After the class, we sang Hawaiian songs on the way back to Albany.
We have been singing together since then. It is rare to find two voices that blend so well".
"Paula is an amazing healer and she sings like an angel. She has a creative and refined ability for arranging vocal lines and harmony parts. Add to that her perfectly intuitive sense for giving our music just the right balance, flow and finishing touches and you can hear why Pulama sounds like velvet for the heart”.