SPECIAL MEMORIAL COVERAGE
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Brothers Cazimero, above, recalled their high school days, when Ho would let them sneak into his shows at the International Marketplace. They sang "Night Life," particularly appropriate to the man's legacy. CLICK FOR LARGE
Chorus of voices joins to sing his praises
THE MUSICAL CELEBRATION
LAST NIGHT'S memorial concert to Don Ho couldn't have begun better. As Pi'ilani Smith of the Royal Hawaiian Band finished an oli (chant) calling all of the islands to stand together and honor Ho, a jet flew along the horizon, then went into a steep climb, ascending to the heavens.
The evening progressed on Waikiki Beach in a manner well suited to the memory of an entertainer known for his laid-back personality -- and who operated free of such constraints as time.
As the sun set, the Royal Hawaiian Band played songs associated with Ho, including the march song of the Kamehameha Schools -- Ho graduated with the class of 1949 and played football for the school. The classic voices of Gary Keawe Aiko and Nina Keali'iwahamana evoked a romantic sound of a Hawaii gone by, and brought to life in memory of Ho.
Kumu hula Sonny Ching and Halau Na Mamo O Pu'uamahulu offered a hula kahiko calling on the ancestors to give Ho's spirit a proper send-off.
From then on, the music flowed nonstop. In the true spirit of the night, the Society of Seven performed a medley that concluded with "The Greatest Love of All."
Continuing in that vein, Imaikalani Young and his band, with Brickwood Galuteria, did one of Ho's classic showroom tunes, the jazzy "Nani Waimea." They continued in their capacity as the evening's house band as Keali'iwahamana sat in for "Hawaii Calls," with the evocative strains of the steel guitar behind her.
Iva Kinimaka sang the gentle "He Aloha Mele," a song that inspired Ho to give the name Hoku to his daughter, a well-known singer. The music varied from the sentimental -- Marlene Sai singing "I Love You" and Melveen Leed doing "Kanaka Waiwai" -- to Ho's good friend Sam Kapu stating that "The Night Life Ain't No Good Life (But It's My Life)."
"That's for you, braddah!" he shouted at the end.
THE PARADE of official tributes was long.
Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona gave Ho's widow Haumea a proclamation stating, to hearty applause, that yesterday was Don Ho Day. Mayor Mufi Hannemann drew applause as well when he said that the message of Ho's life was that if you come from Hawaii, it doesn't mean you're second-rate, and that you can be successful by doing it Hawaiian style, staying true to the islands' roots and culture. Gov. George Ariyoshi gave a heartfelt speech, remembering Ho as "a man of great aloha" and thanking him in particular for his help during gubernatorial campaigns.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Thousands gathered on the sand before the giant screen at Queen's Surf for the concert. The music began as the sun was setting and continued until past 9 p.m. CLICK FOR LARGE
The Brothers Cazimero sang a sweet tribute to Ho, a man they remember let them sneak into Duke Kahanamoku's in the International Marketplace to watch when they were still in high school. The duo did a rendition of "Night Life," a song with a definite nostalgic tinge.
Jackie Bay, an integral part of Ho's shows at the Waikiki Beachcomber, hosted a feature showcasing the voices of young Hawaii that were also part of the man's act. They included 7-year-old Maka'ala Perry and 10-year-old Jasmine Idica, showing an onstage confidence that belied their youth, and 15-year-old Matthew Pablo, honoring the armed services with a well-received "God Bless the USA." Arsheil Calatavra, 12, sang "One Moment in Time."
Star ukulele player Taimane Gardner was also a hit, her assuredness on the four-stringed instrument receiving a hana hou. Willie K., and Ho's children Kea and Hoku, ended the memorial before the crowd stood and sang "Hawai'i Pono'i."
But it was veteran jazz singer Jimmy Borges who put it all in perspective. He ended a special rendition of the Frank Sinatra classic "My Way," with the words: "He said the things that he would feel / we love you so / you're our Don Ho / you said it's my way."