Friday, October 1, 2004

Yvonne Elliman joins the Honolulu Symphony Pops for two concerts this weekend.

Elliman, Kalapana
share stage with
the Symphony Pops

Two popular local performers, Kalapana and Yvonne Elliman, will make their debuts with the Honolulu Symphony Pops this weekend, buoyed by the help of special arrangements by conductor Matt Catingub.

Pops concert

Kalapana and Yvonne Elliman with the Honolulu Symphony Pops, Matt Catingub, conductor

Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall

When: 8 p.m. today and tomorrow

Tickets: $25 to $70

Call: 792-2000

Kalapana, celebrating its 30th anniversary as a band, will do newly arranged versions of their popular local hits "When the Morning Comes," "Naturally" and "Moon and Stars." Elliman will also get the full orchestral treatment of such international hits as "I Don't Know How to Love Him" and "If I Can't Have You."

Elliman became world famous during the 1970s after getting the role of Mary Magdalene in the original recording of "Jesus Christ Superstar." Shortly after arriving in London in 1969, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice discovered her at the Pheasantry Night Club where she performed in between the main acts.

When the headliner was a no-show, Elliman says "I was told to fill in the empty slot, and was approached immediately afterwards by Lloyd Webber offering me the role. I had no idea who Mary Magdalene was."

After selling millions of albums, "Jesus Christ Superstar" opened on Broadway, where Elliman reprised her role to packed houses. Elliman would also appear in the film version, and receive a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actress when she was only 21.

By this time, Elliman had recorded two solo albums, and had chosen to pursue a career of a performing-recording artist. Along the way, she met Eric Clapton, who invited her to sing back up on his hit version of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" from his first solo album "461 Ocean Boulevard." She also co-wrote a song with Clapton, and appeared on several more songs, singing backup.

While in Clapton's band, she scored two more top 10 hits from her solo recording "Love Me," released in 1975, with the songs "Hello Stranger" and "Love Me." In 1978 she recorded the disco hit "If I Can't Have You" from the multi-million selling soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever."

IN 1973, childhood buddies David John (DJ) Pratt and Carl James Malani Bilyeu auditioned at the Rainbow Villa for a popular act just making their name, Cecilio & Kapono. The duo encouraged Pratt and Bilyeu to put a band together.

Bilyeu was performing solo at the Oar House in Hawaii Kai, while DJ was downstairs at Chuck's in the band Sunlight with Kirk Thompson. They got together in DJ's grandfather's garage with the late Bryant "Mackey" Feary Jr., who was another solo act at the Oar House.

The three wrote a few songs together, rehearsed and there was a discussion about the meaning of Kalapana. The literal translation is "sprouting money." Thompson said the meaning was "beat of the music," but he wanted the band name Dove anyway. DJ thought Kalapana meant "black sand."

So the newly dubbed Kalapana played their first gig at Chuck's, then became the regular house band at a new club called The Toppe Ada Shoppe.

The band would become a popular opening act for such visiting bands as Earth Wind and Fire, Batdorf and Rodney, The Moody Blues, and Sly and the Family Stone. When they released their self-titled debut album, recording studio sidemen included Michael Paulo on sax and flute, and Alvin Fejerang on drums.

Kalapana would go on to win several Nani Awards, the predecessor to the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. The band received four nominations, and would win two of them, for "Best Performance by a Duo or Group" and "Best Male Vocalist" for Feary, who had split from the group by then to go out on his own.

By this time, the group reorganized to include Paulo, Fejerang, Feary's replacement Randy Aloya, and Kimo Cornwell, formerly of Beowolf (and now with Hiroshima). Kalapana went on to tour Japan and later release several albums specifically for that country's market.

Back in Hawaii, Feary and Bilyeu would get back together and release the well-received "Kalapana Live Reunion" album taken from a concert at the Waikiki Shell.

Over the next few years, group members would come and go. But now you can see and hear the latest edition of Kalapana, as well as Yvonne Elliman, with the lush backing of the Honolulu Symphony Pops.

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