One of the most prestigious honors for Hawaiian musicians is inclusion in the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame (HMHF). This, year seven individuals (three posthumously) plus “Honolulu Parks and Recreations Hula Teachers” will be honored at the December 17 “Lei of Stars 2023” ceremony (a Sunday brunch) at the ʻAlohilani Resort Waikīkī Beach.
“Each year, the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame honors persons who have contributed to promoting, preserving and perpetuating Hawaiian music and hula,” explained HMHF President Toni Lee.
Kumu Hula Robert Uluwehi Cazimero of Hālau nā Kamalei o Līlīlehua is a multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winning and Grammy-nominated composer and musician. He was previously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006 as part of the musical duo, The Brothers Cazimero, along with his late brother, Roland Cazimero.
Also being honored this year is Dr. Randie Fong, a music educator, composer, kumu hula and current director of Hoʻokahua, Kamehameha Schools’ Cultural Vibrancy Group. Fong is a longtime advocate of culture-based education and has served as a cultural consultant.
Kumu Hula Kealoha Kalama, a renowned singer, dancer, and musician is another 2023 honoree. Named Hawaiʻi’s “Most Beautiful Dancer” when she was just 15-years-old, Kalama went on to produce shows in Waikīkī and found Hālau Pōhai Kealoha.
Kahu Aaron David Mahi is a noted musician and composer. He is the former conductor of both the Royal Hawaiian Band (for 24 years), and the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra (for seven years). Mahi was honored with a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021.
Post-humous honorees include sisters and nā Kumu Hula Louise and Luka Kaleiki. Aunty Louise founded ʻIlima Hula Studio around 1956 with Dottie Ortiz and was later joined by her younger sister, Luka. Louise was among other notable kumu hula who influenced the establishment of the Merrie Monarch Festival.
Also being inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame is Kumu Hula and Reverend Johnny Lum Ho, founder of Hālau o ka Ua Kani Lehua. Lum Ho was an innovative musician, composer and choreographer. His creative hula performances were Merrie Monarch Festival crowd favorites.
Kumu hula being recognized under the umbrella of “Honolulu Parks and Recreations Hula Teachers” are Puanani Alama, Edwina Noelani Kanoho Mahoe and Liffie Leolani Pratt Haʻo. Parks and Recreations kumu being recognized posthumously are: Alice Kalahui, Alice K. Namakelua, Lei Collins, Adeline N. Maunupau Lee, Alice Keawekane Garner, Rose Maunakea Lane, Joseph Kamohai Kahaulelio, George Holokai, Geraldine “Gerry” Alama, Lei Kaniho, Hannah Kaneakua Basso, Kaulana Kasparovitch, Blossom Clark, Hattie Au and Kuʻulei Clark.
The Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame is a nonprofit educational corporation founded in 1994. Its establishment was inspired by the legacy of Nā Lani ʻEhā (David Kalākaua, William Pitt Leleiōhoku, Liliʻuokalani and Miriam Likelike), the four aliʻi considered patrons of Hawaiian culture and each of whom were brilliant composers and musicians.
Keeping with this tradition, inductees into the Hall of Fame are selected by the organization’s advisory board from among Hawaiʻi’s many gifted composers, musicians and vocalists. Honorees include individuals who have been instrumental in creating and perpetuating Hawaiʻi’s unique musical voice.
The annual Lei of Stars awards ceremony serves as a fundraiser for the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. Individual tickets are priced at $200 and corporate tables of 10 are priced from $5,000 to $10,000. Individuals or organizations interested in attending should contact HMHF President Toni Lee at email@example.com.