Meet Scott Katsura
by Donna Manz

Scott Allan disappeared shortly after September 11, 2001. 
Suffering the loss of many friends and acquaintances at the World Trade Center, Allan retreated to his New Jersey home, his refuge.  He shelved the promotional tours planned for his album debut and, instead, spent a two-year hiatus examining life, asking himself, as an American, who am I really?  --- and what do I really want?

In the company of family and feline companions, life gradually renewed itself; the garden he tended yielded nature’s promise of hope and rebirth.  It was a period, Allan recalls, of nurturing and rejuvenation, of taking care of others and being taken care of.  He went so far as to formulate guidelines, outlining who and what he would be when he re-emerged. 

When he appeared in the summer of 2003, he was stronger, more resolute and surer of who he was -  Scott Katsura, an American of Asian descent born and raised in Hawai`i.

“By mid ’03, I was really missing music,” Katsura says.  “Those two years away from it were a defining period.  I had never presented myself authentically before, who I truly am.  Most of my successes were overseas but I fit into a box. 

“I hid my ethnicity; my features are such that I could pass for several ethnic groups … in fact, I was actually cast as a Puerto Rican drug dealer on America’s Most Wanted television program once.”

Early on in his career, his middle name, which is his father’s first, became his professional name because ‘Allan’ was easier to pronounce and less ethnic than ‘Katsura’.  When Katsura announced he was returning to his roots, taking back his real name, producers thought he had gone mad.  They told him he was crazy; “you’re known as Scott Allan,” they said. 

But this is who I truly am, Katsura rejoined.

“On 9/11, I was here in the city, stuck”, explains Katsura. “I lost about 100 friends that day.  It was a frightening, disturbing thing ….. seeing, hearing, smelling the disaster … this impact put me into a mind frame that the world was ending.  The world as I knew it did end on that day.

“September 11 provoked me to think in an American way, leading all the way back to Hawai`i.  I came to realize what I’m willing to fight for, what I’m willing to die for ….” 

With all the things that Scott will do, the one thing he won’t do is compromise his integrity to further his career.

Although the name change was a big thing, it wasn’t the only thing Katsura changed.  He decided it wasn’t in his best interests to always be deferring to others; Katsura can now say, no, I’m not happy with that.  I’m not doing it that way, that’s not who I am.

Artistically, Katsura’s decision to make it known that he’s from Hawai`i was the change with the greatest professional impact.  “Aloha Miles Away”, Katsura’s Hawai`i Music Award winner for pop album of 2005,  was born of his need to reconnect with his roots and the spirit of aloha he thought he had left behind.

“I came to appreciate Hawai`i more after I left it, yes, but after 9/11, the appreciation became clearer in my head.  Until that day, I had become tougher mentally and learned to mask sensitivity.  Although I had suppressed my culture, it was there, within me, until I needed it. 

“Aloha,” Katsura says, “is free, no strings attached; it’s giving and then giving some more … it’s not about exchanging, not about reciprocation …. it’s just giving.  That’s what I tried to convey in Aloha Miles Away.’


Aloha Miles Away is not a traditional Hawaiian album: no ukelele, no slack key guitar.  It’s more like a fusion of pop music and Hawaiian culture.  Listen to the title song and you hear distinctive Polynesian drum beats in the background.  Mahalo America recalls a familiar Native American chant.  Love on the Beach, a romantic tune in the traditional sense, is an ode to tropical beaches anywhere. 

Hawaii Music Awards
Scott won - Pop Album of the Year!
“The songs on Aloha Miles Away incorporate Hawaiian culture conceptually,” says Katsura.  “The inspiration arose from my mission to spread aloha, to live it in my heart; if it’s in your heart, then it’s anywhere, even aloha miles away.  This was my way of spreading aloha, love, gratitude --- appreciation for the valuable things in life, those things that are free.

“Hawai`i is a treasure miles away, a treasure to be protected.  That’s why it’s so isolated, like a buried treasure.  Maybe that’s why nature made it the most isolated spot on the planet.”

Katsura admits that much of his music has double meanings.  “Where I Belong” is one such song. 

“Everything I did up to 2003 led to that song; finding myself and my audience, speaking collectively to my audience, a place to belong …. Now, I know where I belong, in front of you, as Scott Katsura, the guy from Hawai`i.”
Scott with Mom.....

Maybe that’s why Katsura is on a mission ….. no, make that missions …..  not a Luke Skywalker kind of mission; Scott doesn’t use a light saber or the “force” ….. the only odd creatures he knows are New Yorkers … on the bright side, however, Darth Vader is not his father.

No, Katsura’s missions have a philosophical bent.  He generously imparts his mantra that aloha is a state of mind, not a state of place; he advances ethnic pride, showcasing his Asian-American heritage; and in a significant departure from celebrity-dom, Kastura is committed to promoting the welfare and cause of helpless children and neglected or abused animals. Children without permanent homes are singled out for his attention. 

In truth, Katsura is an animal lover and does not hide his affection for them.  He admits that if he were not in show business, he’d be engaged in a veterinary field.  He dreams of the time when he will have the financial means to create an animal rescue facility and public human/animal recreation center. 

In the meantime, Katsura enjoys the friendship of his two loving cats, Pawsi and Sylvester. 

When someone talks with Scott it’s evident that he is a person with aloha in his heart …. which makes his New Yorker-isms all the more incongruous but funny.  Malork!  What is that, anyway?

Scott laughs ….. “Malork” is a New York thing,” says Scott, “although most of us  know ‘malork’ by other familiar terms.”

Katsura’s character and personality are his biggest assets; he’s expansive in his kindness but doesn’t brook phoniness from others.  He’s been in New York long enough to distinguish between the real thing and the fakes.  A journey that took root on 9/11/01 has shaped Katsura’s life considerably. 

Katsura concedes he’s a unique commodity, an Asian-American recording artist from Hawai`i living in New York City, one who characterizes his artistic persona as “provocative”.

“Can you name an Asian pop star here in America,” asks Katsura.  “There aren’t any …. absolutely none.  Asians have more exposure in the acting industry than in the music business.  And I don’t conform to the image of a traditional Asian, either.” says Katsura.  “I’m outspoken and in my music and my life, I explore the more sensitive, intimate and provocative areas of life.”

Katsura insists he’s is a homebody, enjoying garden therapy, his cats, good friends and nature.  He’d rather work in his yard or find a beautiful natural spot in which to read rather party in NY nightclubs.  He’s close to his family --- who continue to live in the house in Halawa Heights in which Scott was raised.

“On a perfect day”,  says Katsura, “I’d have no obligations, just a free agenda … the freedom to do nothing, giving me the freedom to do anything …. nature’s nature and I appreciate all of it.”

Not that Katsura has much free time.  When he’s not on-tour, he’s preparing for his next project of whatever kind, evaluating previous projects and donating time to his personal causes.  This year, Katsura created and produced a “Miss Lovely Hula Hands” competition; the winner was announced worldwide on the "LIVE" Aloha Joe daily show, May 31 '05 .

The winners of "Miss Lovely Hula Hands are...."

Waianuhea Lourdes Rodriguez
Miss Lovely Hula Hands 2005
Kanoe Kahaku
Miss Keiki Hula Hands 2005

See Scott's DVD - Flower Lei
Scroll Down Scott's site....and click WATCH

"I’m working very hard now so i can retire and do nothing; that doesn’t mean not being productive, just doing what I want to do!  Working with my charities, tending to the garden, basking in nature … the sad part is that you have to be able to afford the free things .. that is, you have to work to afford to enjoy your free time.” 

“Everything that people would logically expect from a performing artist is in direct contrast to my true character,” says Katsura.  “By nature, I don’t like attention – red shirt aside.  I’m shy, get stage fright and am uncomfortable with people fawning over me.”

This summer is heavy with international and domestic tours, including a trip back home to Hawai`i.  When Scott produces a concert, he brings with him dancers, musicians, his own security and staging.  He’s quick to emphasize the elements of a memorable concert.

“I try to address certain regional aspects, such as culture, language, respect for customs.  When I’m onstage, I’m an equal.  I try to convey emotions that are universal, the common denominator of what all humans share and to touch upon those emotions.”

Center-Stage @ Ala Moana
“I am most gratified when I hear from live audiences that they are more in love with me than my music after a show.  I know then that I’ve left them with feelings.  No matter who you are, when the true meaning of aloha is shared, it becomes the same love, the same feelings.

“I would love for you to remember me by the feelings I leave you with … if my audience leaves with the spirit of aloha, I have achieved my goal.  

“You can take the boy out of Hawai`i,
but you can’t take Hawai`i out of the boy.”

Scott & Donna Manz

To learn more about Scott, in his own words, go to:

Photos by: Kathy Boast & Scott Katsura

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