The first few notes of Natalie Ai Kamauu’s Sunday matinee concert immediately cast a spell over the Kahilu crowd and kept them captivated throughout her dazzling 90-minute show.
In addition to Kamauu’s stunning vocals, she was accompanied by her husband Iolani on guitar. Later her father Howard came out to sing the Elvis classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love” while his wife of 57 years, Olana, Natalie’s mom, performed hula. They founded Hālau Hula Olana in Pearl City and taught Natalie.
The family affair wouldn’t be complete without her daughter Sha-Lei, son Chaz (Master Keiki Hula winner), and his wife Hiwalei. Kumu Hula Camille Deubel-Mahuna was a guest dancer at this performance. They all contributed to the concert’s delicate mix of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music, along with hula.
Natalie first found fame in 1990 at the Merrie Monarch Festival-Hula Competition, where she was crowned as Miss Aloha Hula. But it wasn’t until 2005 that the music world took notice of her beautiful voice. Her debut album Ē gathered four Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards, and there was a Grammy nomination for La La La La in the Best Regional Roots Music Album category.
When Natalie turned 15, she started thinking about becoming a musician. “It was at a Democratic Party event,” recalled Kamauu in our interview. “I joined my father on stage, and he handed me a ukulele. He showed me a few chords. I watched his fingers play and mumbled a lot – the sound man didn’t plug me in. Other shows followed.”
Kamauu says her inspiration to sing came through chanting while performing hula. “That’s where I found my voice and with my parent’s encouragement.”
Dressed in a beautiful rose-colored dress and matching hat, Natalie spoke about her relationship with the Lindsey family in Waimea and how emotional she felt about them and the area. She plans to build a house here once the plans are permitted. “I’m comin’ for you, Waimea!” she joyfully told the audience. With that, she broke into “No Waimea Ke Aloha.”
Kamauu also announced her upcoming sixth album to be released on Tuesday, February 22, 2022. Natalie Noelani was recorded in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. “That’s what people called me when I won Miss Aloha Hula, and this album brings me full circle in who I am. I took the time during the pandemic to re-find myself and refine myself. Hula is my foundation and where my music stems from. If I can’t dance to the music that I sing, why even sing? Without Natalie, there is no hula, and there is no music.”
Missed the show? Don’t despair. You still can catch the concert on Kahilu.TV.
Notes & Links
Ke Aloha | Blossom Nani Ho’i E | Nani Kaua`I | A Dream Is A Wish | Kaulana ‘o Hilo | The Beauty of Mauna Kea/Make You Feel My Love | Cowboy Hula | Waiaka | Can’t Help Falling in Love | Ku`U Pua Pakalana | No Waimea Ke Aloha | Uhiwai |Waimea I Ka La`i |
Musicians: Natalie Ai Kamauu (lead vocals, ukulele), Lolani Kamauu (guitar, vocals), Howard Ai (vocals, ukulele)
Dancers: Sha-Lei Kamauu Burdett, Chaz Kamauu, Hiwalei Kamauu, , Olana Ai, Kumu Hula Camille Deubel-Mahuna
Concert date: 12/FEB/2022
About the author: Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and editor of Big Island Music Magazine.
Photos: Steve Roby