Wailuku Man Wins 10th Annual Richard Ho`opi`i Falsetto Contest
By Wendy Osher
A Maui man sang his way to victory on the 10th Anniversary of the Richard Ho`opi`i Leo Ki`e Ki`e Falsetto contest, held on Saturday, September 10, in Kapalua.
Ezra “Kaui” Krueger, of Wailuku was among five contestants from across the state that participated in the showcase of Hawaiian music tradition.
His rendition of Maui Loa earned him the Grand Prize award as well as the award for Hawaiian Language–Ka Wahi Kapu O Honokahua, presented by the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.
Krueger is the second consecutive Wailuku resident to win the top honor–last year’s winner was Wailuku’s Po`okela Woods.
The second place honors went to Micah Alohikea Ho`oapili De Aguiar of Captain Cooke on the Big Island for his performance of Ka Puanani a `o Ho`okeana. Placing third, was Kalae Arnold of Kaunakakai, Molokai, who sand Lei Nani.
All contestants who participated were given a special makana or gift from Richard Ho`opi`i and a commemorative trophy crafted by Alyka and John Clark. The Grand Prize winner earned a two night stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua with daily breakfast buffet for two. In addition, the Grand Prize, 2nd and 3rd place winners also received cash prizes of $500; $300 and $200 respectively and a $100 Gift Certificate to Sig Zane Design.
Contestants were judged on Hawaiian Language articulation and command, as well as technique and usage of specific Hawaiian idioms of Hawaiian falsetto.
Judges included: Kiope Raymond instructor of Hawaiian Language at University of Hawaii, Maui Campus; Luana Kawa`a Hawaiian Language Immersion teacher at Ke Kula Kaiapuni ‘o Kalama; and Pueo Pata a former Falsetto winner, writer hula dancer and also knowledgable of the Hawaiian language, Ho`omanawanui Apo an embracing Hawaiian language entertainer.
The falsetto contest was presented in part by Ritz-Carlton Kapalua Cultural Advisory, Clifford Naeole, with KPOA Radio’s “Morning Goddess” Alaka`i Paleka serving as the mistress of ceremonies.
The popular contest was part of this year’s Festivals of Aloha event. The events are sponsored by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, County of Maui, Tri-Isle RC&D, Inc., The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Maui Hotel and Lodging Association, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hasegawa General Store, Hotel Hana Maui , Hana Cultural Center, Information Analytics; Pacific Radio Group; KPOA 93.5 FM; A&B Foundation; The Maui Mall Merchants Association; Native Intelligence, Wailuku First Friday, Hawaiian Airlines, Island Air, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Connec, LLC.