Musician, storyteller embodied island culture


POSTED: Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Clyde Halemaumau “;Kindy”; Sproat, a renowned Big Island musician, falsetto vocalist and storyteller, died Monday on the Big Island. He was 78.

Born in North Kohala and raised in Honokane Iki, a place so remote that access was by mule train rather than car or wagon, Sproat grew up immersed in Hawaiian music and listening to the slack-key masters of the area.

Years later, he would be acclaimed for his own mastery of the guitar and ukulele, and for his talent as a Hawaiian falsetto singer.

Sproat's namesake was the Clyde “;Kindy”; Sproat Falsetto and Storytelling Contest, the first of four falsetto singing contests that helped increase awareness of Hawaii's falsetto tradition.

In 1988, Sproat was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts.

“;Kindy came as close to pure music as it comes,”; said Jay Junker, a record producer and ethnomusicologist. “;The last time Kindy came by the Ukulele and Slack Key Guitar Institute at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea, he couldn't play anymore and could barely walk, but he wanted to drop by and his presence was still so powerfully felt.”;

Junker said Sproat confided to him that the highlight of his career wasn't playing Carnegie Hall in New York, but singing the song “;Opelu”; with second-graders on Lanai, part of a Mele Pana tour the Sproat competition sponsored in the 1990s.

“;On that tour, each of the artists picked a song that was close to them and the song was sent ahead to a class of kids, who then learned it and performed it with the artist,”; he said.

Sproat is survived by his wife, Sherry. Funeral arrangements are pending.