Amy Hānaialiʻi, Hawaii’s top-selling female vocalist, gave her local and global fans a fantastic performance on Kahilu TV last Saturday. The award-winning recording artist was joined on stage by a four-piece band and five members from Hālau Nā Kīpuʻupuʻu, the Hawaiian dance school based in Kamuela.
It’s been over a year since the singer appeared at the Kahilu. Back in late 2019, Amy performed two sold-out shows with fellow vocalists Nāpua Greig and Raiatea Helm, known as the Three Maui Divas. With the pandemic altering the way we enjoy concerts these days, the Maui-based vocalist was thrilled to be doing this livestream and it was evident that she was pouring every bit of soul into the songs in her setlist.
With a huge songbook to pull from, Amy went back to the 2014 collaboration album she did with Willie K called Reunion. In Amy’s intro for the song “Down By The River,” she recalled Willie’s surprise that she penned a gospel-themed tune and he wanted to know the inspiration behind it. “I was so upset about this movie on the Hallmark channel that showed a church being destroyed by a bulldozer,” confessed the singer. “My mother, daughter, and I love the Hallmark channel, and from July to Christmas, our house is filled with nothing but the Hallmark channel.” Gilbert Emata then jumped in with a somber church organ intro. You could tell the Kahilu tech crew and staff seemed to be moved by “the spirit” and you could their whoops and hollers emanating from backstage and up in the control booth.
Amy acknowledged that one of her favorite reasons for coming to Kamuela (besides the Kahilu) was that her ohana was there and she invited her cousins (Stallone Chartrand and Michael Hodson) from the local dance school, Hālau Nā Kīpuʻupuʻu, to join her on stage for “Manaua.” The school is celebrated for revitalizing many ancient art forms and practices within hula not commonly seen today and is recognized for revitalizing the art and practices of Kapa within the lines of hula.
Amy talked about her latest and 15th album Kalawai‘anui, which she self-produced, and how it pays homage to her ancestors and her deep connection to past Hawaiian generations. The beautiful and touching song “Mauna Kea Kuʻu Iwi Hilo” ended with Amy making the mountain-shaped gesture with her hands in respect for Mauna Kea.
Only seconds after Amy wrapped up her 6o-minute set, the few of us in the theatre burst into wild cheers for a “hana ho!” For a brief moment, I had a flashback. It almost felt like the “before times,” you know, that adrenaline rush when concertgoers gave a standing ovation and pounded loudly on the stage for the performer to return – remember that?! I hope you could hear us on the live stream. Amy didn’t disappoint, completed a 360, and was back belting out the Etta James’ classic “At Last.” If Etta was still with us, I’m sure she’d be smiling ear-to-ear like I was – under a mask of course!
Amy and I did a post-show talk story that’s worth catching on Kahilu TV. We talked about a variety of topics including her new music video and her commercially available wines.
Notes & Links
Set List: (65 minutes) Kalawai’anu | Jewel |Manaua | Hawaiʻi You’re My Home | Down By The River | The Meaning of Love | Mauna Kea Kuʻu Iwi Hilo | Hānaialiʻi | Manu o Ku | Have You Ever Seen The Rain? (CCR cover) | Hale’iwa Hula | Hana Ho – At Last (Etta James cover) |
Concert date: 06/FEB/2021
Musicians: Wailau Ryder (guitar), Marcus John (bass), Mike Casil (drums), and Gilbert Emata (piano/vocals).
Hālau Nā Kīpuʻupuʻu: Kumu Micah Kamohali’i, Stallone Chartrand, Halnette Chartrand, Trisha Hodson, and Michael “Bubba” Hodson.
To catch a show and stay up to date with the Kahilu Theatre’s new online platform Kahilu TV and connect with Amy Hānaialiʻi, click on the links below.
Photos: Steve Roby