The Lim Family are sensational!
At the Kahilu Theatre last Saturday, The Lim Family – Nani Lim Yap, Lorna Lim, and Elmer “Sonny” Lim – guided us on a one-hour musical journey through their past and present with a concert titled Welo: Life, Legacy & Family.
Known as Kohala’s First Family of Music, the trio features Lorna on upright bass, Nani on ukulele, and Sonny on acoustic guitar. Each took turns at lead and harmony vocals. At various times they were joined on stage by hula dancers (and family members) Wehileimamo and Wekiuonalani Lim, and Asialynn Yap. Native Hawaiian hula practitioner and fashion designer Manaola Yap (Nani’s son) opened the presentation with an oli (chant) and was also featured in a solo hula performance.
In combination, the range of sounds and moods created throughout the presentation was staggering. One of the Kahilu staff later said she could barely hold back tears of joy.
Over the years, The Lim Family has received various nominations and recognitions, such as the Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award. Slack key guitar master Sonny Lim won a Grammy Award in the Hawaiian Music category as part of a compilation of slack key masters. Lorna Lim won “Song of the Year” for the 2010 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. And Nani Lim Yap, kumu hula (master teacher in the art of Hula) was the overall winner in the 2004 Merrie Monarch Festival’s hula competition. The Lim Family are direct descendants of King Kamehameha the Great, born in North Kohala, Hawaii Island in 1753.
During my talk with the Lim Family in a post-show interview, Nani Lim Yap stressed the importance of music, especially during the pandemic. “Even though the pandemic has kept us separated, being able to play our music, and being able to connect with everyone watching the livestream concert, that’s a beautiful thing. Our music has continued to heal us inside and out. That was our strategy today, to bring us home with you, and share how we grew up and our music.”
The Lim Family has plans to release a new album this year – their first since 2005. The title is Bringing Love Home and it is halfway completed. “We’re doing this recording to hopefully encourage the next generation of our family to continue the legacy,” noted Sonny Lim. “Our family’s talent is so diverse. It’s not only music, but there’s also hula and fashion design. There are so many different directions happening with us, and they’re all expanding at the same time. It’s good for me to know, that for the next generation, we’re are leaving something behind for them to follow.”
Notes & Links
The Lim Family Setlist (68 minutes) | Oli and Ohe hanu ihu | Kohala medley: Maika’i Ke Ala Hanu O Kohala/Maika’i Kamakani O Kohala | Keokea Paka | Lei Ana O Kohala | Grandpa Tell Me ‘bout The Good Old Days | He Hene Ahahana/Pau Be Still | Aunty Genoa Keawe Medley | Ka Wahine O Ka Lua | Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai | Pau Hana Rag | Hi’ilawe | Ka’ano’i Pua/Pua Olena |
Hana ho | Noho Pai Pai
Concert date: 13/FEB/2021
Musicians: Lorna Lim (vocals/upright bass, Nani Lim Yap (vocals/ukulele), Sonny Lim (vocals/acoustic guitar), Manaola Yap (percussion/nose flute), and Asialynn Yap (vocals).
Hula dancers: Nani Lim Yap, Lorna Lim, Wehileimamo Lim, Wekiuonalani Lim, Asialynn Yap, and Manaola Yap.
To catch a show and stay up to date with the Kahilu Theatre’s new online platform Kahilu TV and connect with The Lim Family, click on the links below.
Photos: Steve Roby
About the author: Steve Roby is a music journalist, an L.A. Times bestselling author, and a Big Island filmmaker. He’s been featured in The NY Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard Magazine. Roby is also the Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.