Life is Good – Tribute to Apaka

In entertainment, Life Is Good by Aida NangleLeave a Comment

Tribute to Apaka “The Golden Voice of Hawai`i” Alfred Aholo Apaka

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Should you wander through the Tapa lobby of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort in Waikiki, you’ll find a life-size bronze statue honoring the legendary Hawaiian baritone, Alfred Aholo Apaka.

For you youngsters, before Bruno Mars there was Don Ho. Before Uncle Don there was Alfred Apaka, “The Golden Voice of Hawai`i”. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, he was Hawaii’s most famous entertainer and his show was a “must see” for all visitors. He truly helped to put Henry Kaiser’s Hawaiian Village Hotel on the map. George Kanahele, a critical observer of Hawaiian music wrote, “Alfred Apaka possessed one of the most remarkable voices to ever come out of Hawai`i.” and long-time family friend, the late Gladys Brandt said of him, “His ability to render a Hawaiian melody was unduplicated for the time, and perhaps forever.”

Born into a musical family, his great-aunt, Lydia Aholo, was an educator and the daughter of another great Hawaiian musician — Queen Lydia Lili‘uokalani. Apaka’s son, Jeff, also a fine musician, commented, “I like to think that dad’s musical training came in a direct line from the Queen.”

Alfred Apaka’s great talent eventually landed him a spot as a featured singer on the famed Hawai‘i Calls radio broadcasts. (In our film, “Waikiki In the Wake of Dreams”, the late great Benny Kalama talks about how that came to be, how a “kid cuting class came to audition” and when he began to sing they were stunned at the quality of his voice). Apaka appeared at weekly shows with the Moana Serenaders at the stately Moana Hotel. From the Moana, he moved to Don the Beachcomber’s where in 1952, Bob Hope “discovered” him. Appearances on Ed Sullivan’s prestigious Talk of The Town and The Dinah Shore Show followed, bringing national television exposure for both Apaka’s golden voice and for Hawai‘i.

He was planning a national television special at the time of his unexpected death at the age of forty, in 1960. In 1997, Alfred Apaka was honored with a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award and in 1999 with an album, Lost Recordings of Hawai‘i’s Golden Voice.

Ron Cruger, “Because Hawaii is a land far removed from all others, the most distant populated place on earth, the people of Hawaii hold on to their traditions – their history – dreams. The splendid voice of Alfred Apaka remains in the memories of the Hawaiians. His magical voice filled the sweet Hawaiian air with thoughts of love and dreams of what could be. When Apaka sang a hush fell over those listening. Most had never heard such beauty weave through the air. It was romantic and strong. It made you dream. Hawaiians hold close to their hearts the feelings and the sounds of Alfred Apaka’s music.”

On Sunday, March 17th from 3:00-7:00 p.m. the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel will celebrate the 93rd birthday of Hawaii’s Golden Voice of Hawai’i the late great Alfred Apaka. The public is invited to the Alfred Apaka statue at 3:50 p.m. for music with Kai Markell, Aaron Mahi, Mihana Souza, Leinaala Kalama Heine, Napualeiolikolehua, Pa`ahana, Kanoe Miller. For 3 hours a throng of performers will serenade you in the Tapa Bar performing the songs made famous worldwide by Apaka… MC Harry Bee, Manoa Madness, Kealoha Kalama, Celtic Bags & Drums of Hawai`i, Jeff Au Hoy Trio, Lexington Hotel Dancers and Mona Joy, Jeff Apaka, Queenie Ventura, Kawena Mechler, Richard Natto, Dave Toma, Darren Benitez, John Cruz, Ken Makuakane, Lopaka Colon and more. Alfred’s son Jeff Apaka notes, “Somehow, the romantic hapa haole music of Hawaii’s golden era of entertainment that once captivated and enthralled the world has been lost. My great hope is that the music my father once sang – the classic music that exemplified Aloha that set Hawai`i apart from the rest of the world and attracted so many to visit – will someday be heard again in the empty showrooms of Waikiki.”

No cover. The celebration is from 3p -7p in the Tapa Bar. Validated parking only $8.00. This show may be the “last hurrah” major gathering of Hawaii’s seasoned entertainers. A must-see.

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