Page 5 - MidWeek Kauai - March 24, 2021
P. 5

 The Sky’s The Limit For Olayan Siblings
The exposure has benefited Am- mon, too, as his followers have grown by more than 25 times in the past few weeks. Yet it’s little consolation since he still trails his sister.
Like music, sports is one of the primary forces that make the Olay- ans’ world go ‘round.
“I started with 400 followers, and now I have about 11,000 — but Lia is still beating me!” he says in a moment of sibling rivalry.
For Ammon, the eldest of eight children, he knows all too well what his two younger brothers will soon discover:
“My dad’s side has more of the jocks and they all play sports,” shares Ammon, who counts foot- ball, soccer, basketball and volley- ball among his favorite pastimes.
Truth is, the Olayans are both winning. Already, they have solo projects in the works, as well as a joint album they plan to drop soon. Fans should not only expect soul music with a bit of “pop-hop” fun on their upcoming releases, but material that’s also filled with meaningful and uplifting messag- es.
“We’re outnumbered — by a lot!” he sighs, noting that Baby No. 9 — another girl — is on her way.
“Basically, we love competing and spending time together as a family,” adds Liahona, who thrives in seemingly all sports, including soccer, volleyball and basketball — not to mention lesser-played ac- tivities such as pickleball, pool and pingpong.
Still, life in a large family has its own peculiarities beyond the ratio of boys to girls.
Ammon and Liahona Olayan wowed American Idol judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie with their song, Boom, during auditions last month. PHOTO COURTESY AMERICAN IDOL
MARCH 24, 2021
 “Hawaiian people definitely know my account, so I’m like ‘ma- halo nui loa!’” she giggles.
The average number of people in an American household last year was 3.15, a mere tick over the numerical value of pi. Rudimentary math skills confirm that the people who occupy the Olayans’ home in Vineyard, Utah, far surpasses this figure by more than three times.
yeah!’ Or, my brother can say, ‘Hey, you wanna go outside and play soc- cer?’ And I’ll be like, ‘Bring it on!’”
  “There’s just too much depres- sion and stuff like that in the world, especially among people our age being weighed down so much,” says Liahona.
“It’s always loud,” says Ammon of his home’s ambiance. “There are always people eating, and there’s always tons of dishes.”
Turns out that improved family time was exactly what parents Ca- leb and Temple Olayan — an inves- tor and real estate broker, respec- tively — had in mind five years ago when they quit their jobs and, with a handful of other souls in tow, relo- cated to the Big Island. The couple already owned a piece of property in Pāhoa with a fixer-upper on it, and it was there where they chose to plant their roots for the next three years.
time, they learned to work togeth- er, clearing the property of its many trees and bushes, and sharing in the load when it came to raising goats and chickens, or picking papaya at a nearby farm for food. They even found joy in doing some of life’s simplest things, like using buckets of water to wash their clothes and dishes.
this legacy. According to Ammon, this is how their discovery of this hidden gift began:
“So we plan to continue creating music that will give people hope and joy,” Ammon adds.
“There’s definitely always some- thing to do, for sure,” explains Lia- hona. “I can go to one of my sisters and be like, ‘Hey, you wanna go shopping?’ And she’ll be like, ‘Oh,
And as the family came to rely upon each other more and more, they rediscovered their cultural roots while uncovering some hidden gifts.
Two hours later, Ammon, then just 13, returned with his first com- position — a tribute for Mother’s Day called I’m So Glad You’re My Mommy — and performed it for the family. The moment was like a revelation for Liahona, who im- mediately started penning her own ditties and teaching herself how to play the piano.
And yet there are benefits to liv- ing in a home where the people are plentiful.
“It was like a rainy Sunday and I was being super lazy and my dad was like, ‘Brah, get up and do something! How about you go and write a song?’” he recalls. “So, I was like OK, because I thought he was being serious.”
   At first, the move did not sit well with Liahona, who was just 12 at the time. But soon, she began to understand her parents’ purpose.
“I got to learn so many things and reconnect again, especially with hula,” recalls Liahona. “I hadn’t done that in such a long time, and my mom bringing me back into it made me feel so good.
 It’s always a crowded house for the Olayan clan, who make their home in Vineyard, Utah, these days. Members of this ever-growing family are (clockwise from top right) Caleb, Meleana, Liahona, Leorah, CJ, Cumorah, Ziona and Ammon, with Temple and Zenock in the middle. Not pictured is Baby No. 9. PHOTO COURTESY SCOTT HANCOCK PHOTOGRAPHY
The siblings knew how musical- ly inclined their mom’s side of the family was, but it wasn’t until their days in Pāhoa that they finally un- derstood they were beneficiaries of
“This is just the beginning,” promises Ammon. “Our dream is really coming to life.”
“They wanted us to get closer as a family and reconnect with our heri- tage, our roots and where we come from,” recalls Liahona. “Most im- portantly, my mom realized that we had to learn to reconnect with the Lord. She realized that the more we got into society, the more we lost ourselves. She said, ‘You need to go back to where it all started. I’m going to show you how important it is to remember where you come from.’”
“But I was also grateful for the experience because it was very humbling,” she continues. “If it weren’t for our time there, I don’t think we would have figured out —.”
“When I first heard my brother sing his original song, it was super amazing to me,” she remembers. “I was like, ʻDang, this could actually work!’”
Since the fixer-upper was in no condition to live in — in part be- cause the house had no running water and electricity — the family spent the first three months living in a tent in the backyard. During this
“Right,” continues Liahona, “and how much it means to us.”
Maybe Bryan was right after all about the sky being their limit?
“Our love of music,” interrupts Ammon.
Today, thanks to a Boom-ing song that’s being played on seem- ingly every platform, the possibil- ities for this brother-and-sister duo appear endless.

   3   4   5   6   7