The Maui Arts & Cultural Center has done it again, weaving their magic by bringing three talented and respected Hawaiian musicians to locals and visitors alike right here on Maui.
On March 5 at 7:30 p.m., the “Three Maui Divas” — Amy Hanaialii, Raiatea Helm and Napua Makua — take to the MACC stage. It is being called a “rare triple-bill concert” spotlighting these “homegrown stars at their sassy best, individually and together!” To be able to see one of these ladies perform live would be a treat, but to see all three on the same stage at the same time? Are you kidding me?
I have had the good fortune to spend some time with all three ladies over the years (me and Amy sharing cocktails and laughs at a bar on Hotel St. in Honolulu in the 90′s — ’nuff said!). What do they have in common? Incredible voices, mezmerizing stage presence and yes, they are truly proud and beautiful Hawaiian women.
“Three Maui Divas?” Sure. Each has certainly earned such a title. But if someone asked me, I would have labeled the concert “Three Maui Tita-Divas,” and I say that with all due respect. What many may not know is that these ladies are “down-home girls” who are all very laid-back, secure in their sense of self and who possess wicked senses of humor. They are all firmly rooted in their Hawaiian culture and totally unaffected by their celebrity status.
Amy has been on the music scene the longest. The first time I ever saw her perform was in the Miss Hawaii pageant many moons ago. I remember thinking that she would go far one day should she ever decide on a music career. Here we are, many years and 10 albums later, and Amy has cemented her position as one of Hawaii’s leading, most respected and beloved vocalists.
Her “Nostalgia” album remains my favorite where she recorded “hapa haole” tunes and translated/sang them in Hawaiian. “Beyond the Reef” has never sounded better and how she managed the tongue-twisting “My Little Grass Shack” (again in Hawaiian) is beyond me!
Next on the Hawaiian music scene was Raiatea. She is the youngest of the three, but don’t let that fool you. This local girl can hold her own! At 21 years old, she was one of the youngest performers to attend the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California. It was a remarkable achievement when you consider that she comes from the tiny island of Molokai.
No surprise though. She hails from a fine musical family, including her uncle George Helm who to this day, recording the finest version of “Kalamaula” I have ever heard. Uncle George (who has passed on) is still widely recognized as one of Hawaii’s best falsetto singers for his “almost inhuman” vocal range. Raiatea is truly carrying on this tradition for the Helm ohana.
I have had the opportunity to hangout with Rai in various social situations, but it wasn’t until a year ago or so that I truly got to see the serious side of her. Joining her for lunch in Honolulu, Raiatea shared stories of her career, the demands on her time, her travels across the globe and how the values instilled in her by her family is the foundation of her success. For a young 26 year old, I was impressed by her candor, intelligence and maturity.
My favorite Raiatea song? That’s easy…”Kauoha mai” followed closely by “Kimo Henderson Hula.” She has released four albums to date, and all worthy of praise.
Last, but by no means least, Maui is blessed to be represented by Napua Makua. Her freshman album, “Pihana,” rocked the Hawaiian music scene and I can still vividly remember the release concert of her album at the McCoy Theater at the MACC.
I truly had no idea what I was in for, but was amazed by her vocal prowess and genuine humility and almost a “shyness” of sorts. My favorite song is Lawakua, a tribute to Napua’s sister Kahulu Maluo (together, they co-kumu their Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka). In a close second, “Kilakila o Maui” is a fabulous mele that speaks of Maui’s beloved roselani blossom. She performs both with much skill and passion. Like Amy and Raiatea, Napua hails from a musical family and is the daughter of beloved Maui entertainer Hulu Lindsey.
For tickets, go to mauiarts.org or call 808-242-SHOW (808-242-7469). Tickets are $12, $30 and $40. For more info on the ladies, check out them out at www.amyhanaialiigilliom.com, www.raiateahelm.com and www.facebook.com/napua.greig.