Maui Arts & Entertainment

Contestants Sought for Richard Ho‘opi‘i Falsetto Contest

August 2, 2017, 10:01 AM HST
* Updated August 2, 10:03 AM
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Contestants are being sought for the 16th annual Richard Ho‘opi‘i Leo Kiʻekiʻe Falsetto Contest which will be held at the Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.

Contestants from the 2016 Richard Ho‘opi‘i Leo Kiʻekiʻe Falsetto Contest. Photo Courtesy

The competition, a Maui music tradition, will showcase Maui’s finest amateur male falsetto performers as they carry Uncle Richard’s hopes for the continuation of Hawaiian music.

“Every island had a falsetto contest except for Maui, I was honored when the committee asked to name the contest after me. It’s my kuleana” Uncle Richard said.

Uncle Richard is well known in Hawaiʻi music. At the 2015 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards, Hoʻopiʻi was honored with the Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. Best known as one half of the popular Maui duo, The Hoʻopiʻi Brothers, he has mastered the traditional Hawaiian art of leo kiʻekiʻe (falsetto).

Maui is currently the only island with a falsetto contest. Officials say that other islands have retired contests and have transitioned to concerts or ho‘ike due to challenges like finding contestants and funding.


The 2017 Festivals of Aloha committee is seeking contestants 18 years of age and over who have not released a recording for sale. To register visit here to download the application. The deadline is Sept. 1, 2017.


Contestants will be judged on the following criteria:

• Vocals/Music – Vocal Quality (Balance, Intonation, Strength); Vocal Technique (Control, Ha‘i (up/down), Glissando., Vibrato); Vocal Aesthetics (Dynamics/Expression, Individuality, Phrasing); Musicianship (Accompanied by house musicians); Musicianship (Contestant accompanies self)

• Hawaiian Language – Mele Background (Composer, moʻolelo; manaʻo/inspiration; amount and accuracy of moʻolelo Hawai‘i); Pronunciation/Enunciation (Articulation and command of the Hawaiian Language, Kahakō); Technique (Haʻi/grace note in appropriate places; comfort/ease in moʻolelo delivery)


• Overall Presentation– Grooming; Stage presence; Posture; Communication (Accurate, Enlightening, Entertaining); Delivery; Emotion.

The 2017 theme is “Aloha ka Ho‘i a ka Holokahiki” – Beloved is the sailors return home. The committee is celebrating the return of Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia that sailed across Earth’s oceans.

Richard Hoʻopiʻi will be joined on stage by his ‘ohana and will pay tribute to his band mate, the late Sheldon Brown.

Doors for the contest open at 5:30 p.m., and the contest begins at 6:30 p.m. A $60 admission includes buffet dinner, festival ribbon and entertainment. For tickets and information call (808) 280-8098.

Past contest winners:

2016 – Gregory Kahikina Maxwell Juan
2015 – Kamalei Kawaʻa, Waiehu, Maui
2014 – Grant Kono, Honolulu, O‘ahu
2013 – Micah Hoapili Kuʻaimoku De Aguiar, Kona, Hawai‘i
2012 – Joshua No‘eau Kalima, Hilo, Hawai‘i
2011 – Ezra Kaui Krueger, Maui, Hawai‘i
2010 – Po‘okela Wood, Maui, Hawai‘i
2009 – Pomaika‘i Krueger, Maui, Hawai‘i
2008 – Kamakani Kiaha, Moloka‘i, Hawai‘i
2007 – Kapono Na‘ili‘ili, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i
2006 – Kalani Benanua, Lana‘i, Hawai‘i
2005 – Hiroshi Okada, Japan
2004 – Kai Ho‘opi‘i – Maui, Hawai‘i
2003 – Kamaka Fernandez, Maui, Hawai‘i
2002 – Ramzey Ho‘opi‘i, Maui, Hawai‘i

For overall event information, contact Maui County Coordinator, Daryl Fujiwara, [email protected].

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