Star-Bulletin Features

Moonlight mele

No mess with Amy Hanaiali'i
Gilliom's performing ohana brah;
da sistah goin' set you straight

By John Berger

Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom has been piling up the air miles in the few weeks since "Pu'uhonua," her first solo album in four years, won her the Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2002 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards ceremony. There was a week in Tahiti as part of an international AIDS Awareness project, a hectic trip to California last weekend that involved hours of flight delays, another trip to California for two shows this weekend and then a trip to Japan the following week.

Now she's home to do the first of a series of outdoor evening concerts at Bishop Museum, and wants to set the record straight on some things she's read about herself, family and extended family over the years, so ...

1) One of her accompanying sidemen, Ernie Cruz Jr., is her blood cousin. Not a calabash cousin, a hanai cousin, kissing cousin or a "we think of him as a ... " cousin. He's a relative on their mother's side.

"His grandmother's middle name is Kaahanui and that's my family name from Moloka'i, so we have really close ties," she said. "My great-great-grandfather was a pure Hawaiian, born on the backside of Moloka'i in a place called Waikolu Valley ... and he was married to my great-great-grandmother Hanaiali'i, and I guess they had an offspring in Honokahau on Maui and his grandmother, Ernie's, was raised in that valley.

"What's so funny is that we had a family reunion a year ago, and the concert that (Ernie and I) did in San Diego two nights ago -- all the cousins were there, Johnny Cruz ... Guy Cruz, Lopaka from Colón. We're all related through the Kaahanui family. Lopaka's mom is a Kaahanui.

"You never know," she added. "Be careful who you're dating!"

2) The name is Ernie Cruz, JUNIOR. Ernie is the son of Ernie Cruz, who is also a musician, singer and recording artist, and who recorded with David "Kawika" Crowley on the Big Island in the late 1970s, and later on the mainland. Dad performed for years as Ernie Cruz.

"It drives Ernie crazy, because that's his father, and I sometimes get frustrated with a lot of the stuff. People don't realize what you put in print, like what I do in my music ... people can always go back and make reference to it," she said.

Tonight, Gilliom will be joined by her cousin, Ernie Cruz Jr. (that wasn't so hard, was it?), and two other Hoku Award-winners, Ken Makuakane and O'Brien Eselu.

Oh, there's one more thing she wanted to clear up -- 3) She is not "muffie."

Gilliom explains. "Everybody thinks I'm 'muffie' because, at the Hokus, I said 'I'd like to thank my significant other, Kamaki,' and the TV director went to a camera shot of Tiare, my (female) assistant, so everybody thinks I'm dating a girl named Kamaki!

"Then there was a radio war because KCCN found out that I-94 was saying that I was a 'muffie' and (KCCN's real protective of me) told I-94 'you're not even playing Hawaiian music, why are you even talking about her??' But, actually, I have a boy friend. His name is Kamaki."

On the lawn

Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom is one of the featured artists for "Moonlight Mele on the Lawn"

Where: Bishop Museum
When: 7 p.m. today
Tickets: $15 ($10 for AIG Hawaii policyholders, $5 for museum members
Call: 847-3511

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