Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, November 26, 2001



Hoku Ho sang (with her music video of the song "A Perfect Day"
from the movie "Legally Blonde" playing on a background screen)
as she appeared last week with her dad, Don Ho, at the
Waikiki Beachcomber.

Hoku enjoys holiday at home

By John Berger

Sometimes it pays to miss a wake-up call. Hoku and her husband, Jeremy Clements, had planned to go sightseeing before leaving New York. They were going to get up early, go down to the southern tip of Manhattan and then spend the day checking out the city as they walked back to their hotel. But as things turned out, they got a late start on that beautiful Tuesday morning, the 11th of September. They were somewhere on Wall Street when the first plane hit.

The couple lucked out again when someone got them on the last train out of Manhattan that day. Several friends had spurned rail travel and ended up stranded in Manhattan for days while the hotels continued to charge their hapless guests top dollar for the accommodations. Hoku and her husband rented a van when the train stopped, and crisscrossed the country to fulfill her fall concert commitments.

"Hoku didn't feel like flying, and we got to see a lot of the country," said Clements, in town during the past week with Hoku to spend Thanksgiving with her family. It was a working vacation for Hoku; she appeared as special guest in the Don Ho Show as usual. This time, though, Clements was also part of the show, playing ukulele while Hoku sang.

Clements was the good- natured target of Don's joke about the religious future son-in-law who assured him that when it came to supporting his daughter, "God will provide." (Don's punch line: "He thinks I'm God!")

"Dad just started dragging him up there, but he's having fun," Hoku said of her husband's part in the show, adding that it was a shared interest in music that brought them together. Clements taught her to play guitar. He began working with her onstage during a recent tour when one of the guitarists "ditched out on us."

"Jeremy just went up there and started playing, and we had a really good time."

Having her husband join her tour band, playing a three-month Radio Disney tour, escaping New York and returning home for a one-week engagement with her father in Waikiki are only a few of the things that have made 2001 a busy and productive year for the 20-year-old singer.

Hoku also was the subject of a 12-page fashion layout in the New York Times Magazine, and had another national hit when "A Perfect Day" was released as a single in conjunction with Reese Witherspoon's comedy "Legally Blonde" during the summer. Hoku wasn't seen in the movie but got to work with Witherspoon when the actress shot new scenes for Hoku's music video version of "A Perfect Day."

"She was awesome, supernice and really down to earth," Hoku said. "She's a mommy, and we were talking about all that stuff, but she was so nervous because it was her first music video and she had to sing all my songs. Between every take she'd tell me she felt like she was taking my job or asking if I thought she was defiling the song! She was so nice. We had a great time."

Hoku was seen playing guitar in the video and plans to play on more of her recordings and concert dates. She also plays guitar and ukulele when she's working with her father. She's "poking around" on keyboards these days, too.

"I used to play piano but Dad made me take lessons, and I hated it so I quit, and I'm really sorry I did. I've been trying to expand because I'm really into producing and trying to arrange things. I have so many ideas in my head, and I want to see how they work when I get them down. I'm fortunate enough to have a musical family that knows people to do that, so I'm really lucky."

Hoku and Clements are also working on material for her next album. She wrote and produced "You First Believed," one of the best songs on her self-titled debut album last year. She wants to have more control over the musical content of the next one.

"We want to make an album that has a lot more to do with my kind of music -- which includes a lot of local music. There's some occasional pop here and there, but most of it is stuff I grew up on -- a lot of jazz songs, local songs, reggae, upbeat songs and ballads. We want to show a larger gamut of music. I'm really excited about it."

One facet of the project may have been previewed last weekend when Hoku and her younger brother, 14-year-old K-Boy Ho, sang "Rhythm of the Rain" as a local-style duet. Whether he appears as a guest on her next album or not, it's clear that she's already comfortable exploring genres other than the teen pop sound of "Another Dumb Blonde" and the guitar-band pop-rock of "A Perfect Day."

The thing that Hoku isn't changing is her commitment to setting a wholesome, G-rated example for her younger fans. Hoku doesn't look quite as girlish as she did when "Another Dumb Blonde" hit almost two years ago, but when she's onstage she entertains without resorting to aggressively sexual lyrics or strip-club choreography. Her hits have not been about sex or seduction.

She says that although "a lot of singing is acting," she won't compromise her integrity by pretending to be something she's not. "I'd rather quit (the record business)," she said.

Her father supports her decision 100 percent, commenting that Britney Spears chooses to be lewd, but "not my baby!"

The chemistry between Don and Hoku was as strong as ever. The videos for "Another Dumb Blonde" and "A Perfect Day" were part of an expanded father and daughter miniset that also included their popular rendition of "I'll Remember You"/"She's Gone Again."

The past months have seen Hoku's fan base continue to grow, and her career horizons continue to broaden. She's done more modeling, has read for some film roles that she feels comfortable with, and may star in a sitcom about growing up in a beach town -- she describes it as "like 'Wonder Years' but funny."

"I want so bad to get this acting thing to work out 'cause I think it would be so much fun to be a cross-over artist who acts and sings, but even if it doesn't, it's comforting to know that I can come back here and make a living and spend time with my family. This is where my heart really is -- with my family and my home -- and after being in L.A., it's so refreshing to come back."

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