2017 Richard Hoʻopiʻi Falsetto Champion Announced
The 16th Annual Richard Hoʻopiʻi Leo Kiʻekiʻe Hawaiian Falsetto Contest took place Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel.
The traditional Maui competition showcases Maui’s finest amateur male falsetto performers as they carry Uncle Richard’s hopes for the continuation of Hawaiian music.
Contestants this year included Makana Arce of Molokaʻi, Walter Kalani Librando-Souza of Maui, Edward Juan of Maui, Pj Kaawa of Oʻahu and Kason Gomes of Maui.
In honor of one of Uncle Richards band members and long time supporter of the contest, the committee created the Sheldon Keahiawakea Brown Music Award for the contestant who demonstrates exceptional playing ability, effortless and beautiful, just like Uncle Sheldon.
The Sheldon Keahiawakea Brown Award, along with the Hawaiian Language award, was given to Kason Gomes who also took home the title of 2017 Leo Kiʻekiʻe Falsetto Champion.
Gomes also won with a two-night stay at Kāʻanapali Beach Hotel, a wood award, Kobeʻs Steakhouse $100 Gift Certificate, a lei hulu by Hulunani, a Missing Polynesia Shirt, Big Island Candies, Queen Kaʻahuamanu Shopping Center $150 Gift card, a photoshoot by Mailani Hawaii Vocal and Performance Mentorship Program, q $10,000 scholarship from Argosy University and $600 cash.
Gomes began his musical journey at the age of four. He now performs with Manuteanui E Productions and recently opened for Grammy and Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winner Kalani Pe’a at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. His winning song was “Pauoa Ka Liko Ka Lehua.” Gomes is currently enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi, Maui College with hopes to obtain a degree in Civil Engineering from UH Manoa.
2nd Place went to Edward Juan (Maui) and third place went to Makana Arce (Molokaʻi)
Judges for this year’s event were Kaiolohia Funes Smith, Kapulanakehau Tamure, Cody Pueo Pata, Ku’ulei Alcomindras-Palakiko and Kiope Raymond.