Singer's voice among isles' 'sweetest sounds'


POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2009
This story has been corrected. See below.

Iwalani Kahalewai, a Maui-born soprano who sang with many acclaimed Hawaiian entertainers through five decades, died in Honolulu on Aug. 4. She was 75.

Kahalewai, who still performed with her two daughters in the group Puamana until her death, died of cancer, her sister Abigail McGurn said.

Often sharing the stage with the best entertainers in Hawaii, Kahalewai was a regular on the international Hawaiian radio program “;Hawaii Calls,”; appeared with the Royal Hawaiian Band and sang with Alfred Apaka at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Danny Kaleikini and others.

Kahalewai had one solo record, her sister said. She was featured on the 1958 album “;An Hawaiian Happening”; and performed on several compilation albums, including “;Legendary Musicians of Hawaii”; in 2006.

Born Jan. 25, 1934, Charlotte Iwalani Kahalewai started singing when she was about 7 years old, her sister said.

Gary Aiko, a local musician who played with Kahalewai during the 1990s revival of “;Hawaii Calls,”; recalled her talents.

“;She had a beautiful voice,”; he said. “;She was a sweet, wonderful person, very knowledgeable in her Hawaiian and her Hawaiian music.”;

“;She has sung with the best,”; said Nina Kealiiwahamana, an award-winning performer who sang with Kahalewai in a trio for five decades.

“;There's hardly a person in the Hawaiian field of music that doesn't know or hasn't had her on stage with them,”; she said.

Her legacy is the “;music of Hawaii in its sweetest sounds,”; Kealiiwahamana said. “;It's hard to explain how sweet her voice is unless you really know her. That heart is so pure Hawaiian.”;

Kahalewai is survived by her sister, three brothers, two sons, a daughter, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Visitation is Wednesday from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at Star of the Sea Church; Mass at 11 a.m. Inurnment is 12:45 p.m. at Diamond Head Memorial Park. Aloha attire.





        » The late Iwalani Kahalewai performed with two friends in the group Puamana. The story above says she performed with her daughters.