Makana Explains Why He Sang Protest Song to APEC Leaders in Hawaii

Hawaiian guitarist Makana says he put his fears aside and listened to his heart when he chose to repeatedly sing his protest song, "We Are the Many," to world leaders gathered for an APEC dinner Saturday.

"At the half-way point, I just had the urge to play it," Makana, 33, told Civil Beat Sunday morning. "I didn't want to be rude about it, but I wanted to sing this song to these people. At first, I was very, very, very nervous — there was Secret Service everywhere."

The song and video had just been released Saturday on You Tube and Facebook.

The opening lyrics are:

"Ye come here, gather 'round the stage The time has come for us to voice our rage Against the ones who’ve trapped us in a cage To steal from us the value of our wage

"I received so many comments so quickly," he said of the release. "I mentioned to fans that I was going to play that night and the response was overwhelming to sing it. I thought, I don't know, I don't want to get in trouble, what if they shoot me, or, I don't know what. I'm scared. But my friends said to just do what I feel."

Makana, who had played at the White House in 2009, said he was asked by the White House to play background music for the exclusive world leaders dinner at the Hale Koa, hosted by President Barack Obama. Makana said he played from 6:45 until a little past 9 p.m.

He said he didn't let his nerves get the best of him, but said "every time I'd think about playing it, I'd shake."

He eased into the song.

"The people closest to me turned around and gave me a funny look," he said. "But nobody really knew what to say. When I would get their attention, I'd back off a bit. It was like a cat-and-mouse game. I played another song, but then had about a half-hour left so I sang it again. I just mutated it into a symphony that just went on and on, and I kept changing the way I sang it for the remaining time."

"I kept repeating the last line: 'Till you do the bidding of the many, not the few. We are the many, you are the few.'" He wore a home-made white T-shirt that read "Occupy With Aloha."

Makana posted this video about the performance on YouTube:


He also was interviewed by CNN Sunday.

The performance was featured on yeslab.org, a website that describes itself as "a series of brainstorms and trainings to help activist groups carry out media-getting creative actions, focused on their own campaign goals."

Makana said he'd never worked with the group before and couldn't recall how the partnership came about. He only learned he would be performing at the event when the White House called him two weeks ago. "I don't know how it happened. It's not something I normally do," he told Civil Beat.

Here are the complete lyrics to "We Are The Many":

We Are The Many Lyrics & Music by Makana Makana Music LLC © 2011

Ye come here, gather ’round the stage

The time has come for us to voice our rage

Against the ones who’ve trapped us in a cage

To steal from us the value of our wage

From underneath the vestiture of law

The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw

At liberty, the bureaucrats guffaw

And until they are purged, we won’t withdraw

We’ll occupy the streets

We’ll occupy the courts

We’ll occupy the offices of you

Till you do

The bidding of the many, not the few

Our nation was built upon the right

Of every person to improve their plight

But laws of this Republic they rewrite

And now a few own everything in sight

They own it free of liability

They own, but they are not like you and me

Their influence dictates legality

And until they are stopped we are not free

We’ll occupy the streets

We’ll occupy the courts

We’ll occupy the offices of you

Till you do

The bidding of the many, not the few

You enforce your monopolies with guns

While sacrificing our daughters and sons

But certain things belong to everyone

Your thievery has left the people none

So take heed of our notice to redress

We have little to lose, we must confess

Your empty words do leave us unimpressed

A growing number join us in protest

We occupy the streets

We occupy the courts

We occupy the offices of you

Till you do

The bidding of the many, not the few

You can’t divide us into sides

And from our gaze, you cannot hide

Denial serves to amplify

And our allegiance you can’t buy

Our government is not for sale

The banks do not deserve a bail

We will not reward those who fail

We will not move till we prevail

We’ll occupy the streets

We’ll occupy the courts

We’ll occupy the offices of you

Till you do

The bidding of the many, not the few

We are the many

You are the few


DISCUSSION: What do you think of Makana's decision to sing his protest song to leaders at APEC? Do you support him? Share your thoughts below.


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