Maui Arts & Entertainment

Songbirds of Hawai‘i: Darlene Ahuna, Ku‘uipo Kumukahi & Mihana Souza

November 9, 2017, 10:52 AM HST
* Updated November 9, 12:03 PM
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L-Right, Bottom: Mihana Souza, Darlene Ahuna, Ku’uipo Kumukahi. Photo Courtesy

A special concert celebrating the rich traditions of Hawaiian music will take place at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Friday, Nov. 17, with a trio of award-winning vocalists: Darlene Ahuna, Ku‘uipo Kumukahi & Mihana Souza in “Songbirds of Hawai‘i”.

The three women, all with numerous Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards, will share their fun-filled stories, and their exquisite skills in a one-night concert at the McCoy Studio Theater at 7:30 p.m.

Darlene Ahuna is one of Hawai‘i’s foremost female vocalists. She is a multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winner, including “Female Vocalist of the Year,” the highest recognition available from the Hawaiian music industry. She has performed at festivals and concerts in the islands and on the USA mainland, as well as headlining major performances throughout Japan. Her powerful renditions of traditional, hula & hapa-haole Hawaiian songs soar with grace.

As a young girl on the island of Hawai‘i, Ahuna was influenced by the music of Lena Machado, Genoa Keawe, Leina‘ala Haili, Hui ‘Ohana, and the falsetto of Dennis Pavao. Joining the Hawaiian Civic Club, she and Ku‘uipo Kumukahi began a friendship which has lasted a lifetime and lead Darlene to perform, and eventually launch her recording career.

Ku‘uipo Kumukahi is an artist of traditional Hawaiian music who is known for her continuance of traditional performance styles and instruments. Her first solo album was “Nā Hiwa Kupuna O Ku‘u One Hānau,” released in 1994.

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The album received a record-breaking nine nominations in the 1994 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Music Awards, the so-called “Grammys of Hawaiian Music.” In the end, it won in five categories, including Female Vocalist of the Year, Best Traditional Hawaiian Album, and the Haku Mele Award for “‘O Waikulumea.”

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It was four years before Kumukahi’s next album, “Nā Leo Kama‘āina O Ku‘u ‘Āina Ho‘oheno,” appeared. The album won a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Music Award for Excellence for the Use of the Hawaiian Language in Song Compositions. Her three later albums are “So Sweet” (Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Traditional Hawaiian Album of the Year), E Ku‘u Lei E Ku‘u Ipo (Nā Hōkū Hanohano for Female Vocalist of the Year) and “The Royal Music Club Presents Ku‘uipo Kumukahi,” released in Japan.

Mihana Souza grew up in the great old tradition of Hawaiian music-making. Whether it’s a dressy evening party or a lazy afternoon in the backyard, she always knows there’s going to be music and her family will be singing, strumming, dancing, laughing.

Mihana was born into a family of gifted musicians. Her mother, Aunty Irmgard Farden Aluli, was a Hawaiian treasure who composed hundreds of songs, and recorded and performed with her family quartet: “Puamana.”

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In 1976 Mihana, along with sister A‘ima McManus and cousin Luana McKenney, joined her mother to re-form the group Puamana, which Auntie Irmgard had first founded in the mid-1960s with her sister Diana and Thelma Anahu.

Over the next 25 years, Puamana captivated audiences with their sweet four-part harmony, performing five to six days a week at various locations.

“Puamana,” was written for the the family’s ancestral home in Lahaina that was a few doors from 505 Front Street. The classic Hawaiian melody “Puamana” was written by Irmgard’s father, Charles, with Auntie Irmgard Farden Aluli composing the music in 1937.

The group was awarded a Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Mihana Souza recorded a favorite song of her mom’s, “Rust on the Moon”, and made it the title song of her first album. It was named Nā Hōkū Hanohano Jazz Album of the Year, in 2003. Mihana’s second release, “One Little Dream,” blended contemporary and world music, showcasing her diverse interests.

Tickets for “Songbirds of Hawai‘i” are $35 plus applicable fees. MACC members receive a 10% discount.

Tickets are available at the MACC Box Office Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., by phone during business hours at 242-SHOW and online.

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