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Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, January 20, 2000

Hoku follows
her own star

Don Ho's daughter has her
own recording contract, and
a single airing on MTV

By Tim Ryan

Hoku Ho, daughter of entertainer Don Ho, has a shot at opening for 'N Sync's U.S. tour.

Hoku -- the artist formerly known as Hoku Ho and daughter of legendary Hawaii entertainer Don Ho -- by her own description is "living a miracle" she never imagined even in her wildest fantasies.

"My dad is really the entertainer, the one who everyone knows, who has experienced all the joy and fun of being so successful," Hoku says in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "I was just the little kid who sneaked on stage with him."

Now Hoku doesn't have to sneak on stage anywhere; she's holding court by herself.

In October the 19-year-old La Pietra -- Hawaii School for Girls graduate signed a three-year, $300,000 recording contract with Geffen Records on its Interscope label, dad said.

On Monday, a music video of Hoku's just-released single "Another Dumb Blonde" debuted on MTV. The next day, it was ranked as the music station's 10th most requested video.

The song is the theme for the Nick Movies/Paramount picture "Snow Day," starring Chevy Chase. (The soundtrack will be released Feb. 8). Hoku's as-yet-untitled compact disc is expected this spring, and she'll perform her song at the premiere of "Snow Day" Feb. 11 at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.

But even more incredibly, Hoku is being considered to be the opening act for 'N Sync during the group's month-long U.S. tour in May. (In December she appeared on Nickelodeon's "The Big Help" with the group and Britney Spears.)

"It's so exciting to have worked so hard for so long for something and to finally see it come to life now," Hoku said. "Other than my family and faith, nothing means more to me than music."

But there' more.

In February and March, Hoku will perform 19 concerts on the East Coast with the Arista band LFO. On Saturday, she will travel to Big Bear, Calif., to film a series of shows for MTV's February program "The Ski House."

"I've already done so much that I never imagined," she says. "Being on MTV was one of my ultimate goals, but being in the top 10 of video requests was just my silly dream.

"To have that for even one day was a miracle to me. I'm so excited to be where I am right now that I'm not even looking into the future. I'm enjoying this all a day at a time."

Even the normally cool and laid back Don Ho is stunned at "how incredibly fast things have happened" for his daughter.

"It's really amazing," he said. "I may have to ask her for a loan."

Geffen executives called Ho and his attorneys to discuss the deal for his daughter before offering Hoku a contract, Ho said.

"We had agreed that before Hoku signed anything, Geffen would clear everything with me and my lawyers," Ho said. "I didn't want her signing something that wasn't good."

But that's about as far as dad's advice has gone.

"Hoku has been on stage with me since she was a little kid, so she kinda knows this business already," he said. "You have to let your kids do their own thing; they march to a different drum these days.

"I just stand on the side and let things happen. I don't want people to say her success is because of her father."

While dad may be holding back advice now, he taught her plenty while they worked together in Hawaii and on the West Coast.

Says Hoku, "Dad taught me never to take fans for granted because they are who make you what you are. I always think about that, though right now my fans are all pretty young girls."

And she knows she has dad to thank for being discovered. While the pair performed together on Maui earlier this year, songwriter Antonina Armato, who has written for Mariah Carey and Vanessa Williams, was struck by Hoku's talent. Armato encouraged the teen-ager to go to Los Angeles to meet with record producers. Armato ended up writing the song "Another Dumb Blonde" for Hoku.

Hoku was attending the Christian college Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego last fall when Geffen offered her a contract in October.

She has two sisters, Kea and Kaimana, who live in Hawaii; mom Patti lives in Huntington Beach.

"I've put my original goals of finishing college and recording an album of contemporary Christian music on hold for a while to enjoy this," Hoku said. "I'm ... really enjoying the whole width and breath of this experience: the television, the cameras, the press."

As for free time, there isn't much for the budding performer.

"Mostly I just hang around watching television or playing video games if I'm not sleeping," she said. "I dance all day or I have press or some event to attend. And when I come home I crash big time. But I love it!"

Rising star

Bullet Who: Hoku Ho
Bullet What: Look for her music video "Snow Day," airing on MTV.

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