Falsetto 2: Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contests

Since 1992, the Aloha Festivals celebrations have included contests of falsetto singing. First held on the big island of Hawai‘i, three additional contests are now convened annually. The four contests are:

  1. Clyde “Kindy” Sproat Storytelling and Falsetto Singing Contest launched on Hawai‘i Island, launched in 1992
  2. Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contest launched on O‘ahu, launched by Frank B. Shaner (and initially named after him) in 1994
  3. Richard Ho‘opi‘i Leo Ki‘eki‘e Contest launched on Maui, launched in 2003
  4. Kaua‘i island contest launched in 2005

The emergence of these falsetto singing contests signals two important developments. First, the contests are an important means to encourage aspiring singer  Second, the contests have brought tremendous talent to widespread public attention, and the ever-growing ranks of contest winners include those who go on to establish their presence successfully as recording artists.

In 2000, Hula Records launched a series of falsetto anthology recordings that present a selection of contest winners. The tracks are not live recordings from the contests; rather, winners are invited to a studio recording session as part of the prize package. While the first four CDs drew on a selection of past winners, subsequent CDs have focused on winners from the immediately prior cycle of the contests. The roster of artists on these CDs presents an impressive portrait of a new generation of falsetto singers in a tradition that is truly flourishing. At this writing, four of the singers first featured in this series have released their own recordings; they are Kalei Bridges (winner of the very first contest in 1992), Kamakele “Bulla” Ka‘iliwai (1997), Sam Keli‘iho‘omalu (1998), and Cody Pueo Pata (2000). The 2003 Big Island winner Matthew Sproat is one member of the duo Waipuna, whose first CD was released within this past month.

Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners Vols. 1-8

Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners (Hula HS-613, p2000)
The first volume in this series presents a selection of winners from Hawai‘i Island and O‘ahu contests. Performers are:  Chauncy Bermodez, 1999 (O‘ahu), William “Billy” Gilman, 1996 (Hawai‘i), Kamakele “Bulla” Ka‘iliwai, 1997 (Hawai‘i), San Francisco’s Saichi Kawahara, 1998 (Hawai‘i), Japan’s Kichizo Matsutani, 1997 (O‘ahu), and Stan Priddy, 1999 (Hawai‘i).

Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners Vol. 2 (Hula HS-618, p2001). Performers in this collection are:  Rayburn “Chan” Abenes, 2000 (Hawai‘i), Akoni, 1995 (Hawai‘i), Chauncy Bermodez, 1999 (O‘ahu), Kalei Bridges, 1992 (Hawai‘i), “Bulla” Kailiwai, 1997 (Hawai‘i), Sam Keli‘iho‘imalu, 1998 (O‘ahu), and Stan Priddy, 1999 (Hawai‘i).

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Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners Vol. 3 (Hula HS-624, p2002)
Performers are:  “Chan” Abenes, 2000 (Hawai‘i), Lopaka Kanahele, tie for Grand Prize 2001 (Hawai‘i), “Bulla” Kailiwai, 1997 (Hawai‘i), “Le‘a” Kukona-Pacheco, 2001 (O‘ahu) and tie for Grand Prize 2001 (Hawai‘i), Cody Pueo Pata, 2000 (O‘ahu). Also included are tracks by contest convenors Clyde “Kindy” Sproat and Frank B. Shaner.

Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners Vol. 4 (Hula HS-629, p2003)
Performers in this volume are:   “Chan” Abenes, 2000 (Hawai‘i), Daniel “Kaniala” Kekaoha Masoe, 2002 (Hawai‘i), San Diego resident Gary Medeiros, 2002 (O‘ahu), and Stan Priddy, 1999 (Hawai‘i).

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Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners Vol. 5 (Hula HS-634, p2004)
This volume features all three of the 2003 contest winners:  Imipono Cabrinha, (O‘ahu), Ryan “Kamaka” Fernandez, the first winner of Maui‘s Richard Ho‘opi‘i Leo Ki‘eki‘e Contest, and Matthew Kawaiola Sproat (Hawai‘i).

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Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners Vol. 6 (Hula HS-638, p2005)
Performers are 2004 winners: Ruben Kalai “Kai” Ho‘opi‘i–the son of Maui contest convenor Richard Ho‘opi‘i (Maui), Matthew Kupuka‘a (Hawai‘i), and Lawrence Pau (O‘ahu).

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Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners Vol. 7 (Hula HS-645, p2006)
Performers are 2005 contest winners: Benson Kam (Hawai‘i), Ronnie Kaohelaulii–winner of Kaua‘i’s first contest, Kyoto-born Hiroshi Okada (Maui), and New Jersey resident Bill Wynne (O‘ahu).

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Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners Vol. 8 (Hula HS-647, p2007)
Performers are 2006 contest winners:  Elijah Isaac (Kaua‘i) and Kalani Benanua (Maui). Also included are tracks by the 2006 Falsetto Hall of Fame Inductees: Benny Kalama, Kahauanu Lake, Dennis Pavao, and John Pi‘ilani Watkins.

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Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners Best of . . . (Hula HS-6xx, p2008)
The 2008 CD in this series is a “best of” anthology that draws on the first eight volumes.

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