Saturday, June 5, 1999

Hawaii’s divas
sing with class
and charm

By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin


Hawaii's first all-star diva show came off well enough last night as Loyal Garner, Carole Kai, Melveen Leed and "baby diva" Nohelani Cypriano shared the stage at the Sheraton Waikiki. The divas were a big hit.

Opening act Kai looked fabulous in a series of sequined gowns. She and the band rushed frenetically through her first two numbers, but she mellowed and looked more confident after proving herself as a pianist. An emotional rendition of "Send In The Clowns" capped her set with impressive vocal work. Kai should do more showroom work and resume recording as well.

Cypriano dressed down and featured her longtime musical collaborator Dennis Graue and members of her Navatek show. "Lihue," the hit that launched her solo career, and her signature bilingual version of "You Are So Beautiful," were her best numbers.

The crowd loved Garner, Hawaii's beloved Lady Of Love, who performed her "Yesterday Once More" oldies medley, "Blind Man In The Bleachers," and other proven material she's been doing for years.

Leed reaffirmed her place as one of the most popular local entertainers. She showed versatility with Hawaiian songs, African pop, American standards, oldies, reggae and two of her "Hawaiian country" hits. It was a clean, classy and charming return to Waikiki for Leed.

Age was a recurring topic. Kai joked "my chichis (breasts) are falling down." Garner kept changing the year she graduated from Sacred Hearts Academy. Leed spoke of getting older and wiser through four marriages and exulted that she still wears a size 8.

A truncated take on "We Are Family" opened the finale. The four then gathered around the piano. Garner played as they sang a few old songs and reminisced about high school. Kai was so relaxed by then she traded quips with Leed.

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