IWALANI KAMAHELE STONE
I don’t know how many of you know about/or went to places called “The Tahitian Lanai” in Waikiki in the 1960-1980 era or to a place called “La Marianas” in the Sand Island/Kalihi Kai area in the 1980-2003 time period. The common bond these two places had was that they were hangouts for singers, both professional and non-professional, who would just drop in to relax; but all were so good that people used to pack the two places, particularly on weekend evenings! One of the most popular professional singers to “drop in” regularly at “The Tahitian Lanai” and “La Marianas” (and admiringly called the “Queen” by the La Marianas singers) is the wahine who is my first “Profile” person for 2005! I went to Webster’s dictionary to try to find the words that would most aptly describe her…..the first word that came to my mind: elegant, which Webster defines as “characterized by tastefulness, richness and refinement”……..second word that came to mind: beautiful, is defined as “qualities that please the senses, the mind and the soul.”
Beautiful and elegant truly describe IWALANI KAMAHELE STONE……Tall and slim with a beautiful face and dark, salt and pepper hair……..and what a wonderful, powerful, awesome singing voice!
Iwalani lives in the Pacific Northwest now, having relocated from Hawaii to Kenmore, WA six years ago so she could be with her daughter Iliki and the apple of her eye, beloved mo`opuna (granddaughter) Kamele. Music is in Iwalani’s genes, in her blood and while she may have “retired” from her Waikiki singing gigs, she has been very, very busy singing/spreading Aloha in the Pacific Northwest since she moved here. She’s sung at wakes and at weddings, at birthday and anniversary parties; at restaurant openings;, at various Hawaiian community fund raisers; plus singing lead every weekend for the St. John Vianney Catholic Church choir in Kirkland ! And wherever she has sung, people who have heard her want just one thing: her to promise to return!
Iwalani Kamahele was born into a musical family. One of ten children of Sol Kamahele and his wife Anita, Iwalani was born in Hawaii but moved to California when she was a young teenager. Iwalani attended the all girls Academy of Sacred Hearts, graduating in 1951 and returning to Hawaii shortly thereafter. Sol Kamahele was a renowned Waikiki entertainer for many, many years. All ten of his children were well versed in music, either playing instruments or singing. Besides singing, Sol had a career in California as a Sheriff’s deputy and as a Police Officer with the Honolulu Police Department.
In the 1950s, Hawaii was mostly a dream vacation for mainlanders and the romantic aura of Hawaii was transmitted to those outside Hawaii either by movies or via a radio show called Hawaii Calls. Iwalani was one of the regular singers on that radio show. During her Waikiki career, she sang at all the major hotels including the Royal Hawaiian; Surfrider; Hawaiian Village; the Moana, and the Ilikai to name a few. The Halekulani Hotel (the House without Keys) was one of her favorite gigs…probably because her late brother Sonny Kamahele was the headliner there for several decades. In her Waikiki career, she became friends/sang with some of Hawaii’s legendary entertainers including Danny Kaleikini (with whom she did a memorable “Ke Kali Nei Au” for a “Hawaii Calls” show), Pua Almeida, Nina Kealiiwahamana, Jimmy Kaopuiki, Haunani Kahalewai, Alfred Apaka, the Kalima Brothers, Martin Denny, Jerry Byrd, George Kuo, Martin Pahinui, and more, too many to name!
Now, when she returns to Hawaii with mo`opuna Kamele for their annual summer vacations, Iwalani spends most of the time with family but will drop in to the Marriot Hotel lounge to catch long time friend Aunty Genoa Keawe and to the Jade Pagoda lounge to sing with/listen to her long time friend Ron Miyashiro (probably the best blind Hawaiian born pianist ever) and the remaining members of the old “Tahitian Lanai”/”La Marianas” singers!
Asked if she has a favorite song, Iwalani says that during her professional Waikiki singing career, her “call” song was “Paauau Waltz”… a song which is so much like her……elegant and beautiful!
Mahalo Iwalani for sharing your awesome singing talent and Aloha with us! For the rest of you: until we all meet again, be kind to each other……me ke Aloha pumehana…….Danny
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