Genoa Keawe: A Hawaiian Music Legend

Genoa Keawe, her music embodies the spirit of aloha. Her work brought Hawaiian music to the lives of people around the world, spreading the love and sounds of Hawaii to anyone who listened to her songs.

Aunty Genoa Keawe

Genoa was born in the Kaka’ako district of Honolulu on October 31, 1918. She began performing at the age of 12 when she joined performance group at the Mormon Church in Laie Town.

Genoa finds recognition

A fan of the Johnny K. Almeida radio show, Genoa one day heard a contest on the show inviting listeners to sing over the air. Genoa’s friends dared her to call in. She did, and sang “For You A Lei”, a birthday song for her niece. Johnny K. Almeida loved her performance so much he enlisted the help of Joe Keawe, Genoa’s distant relative, Almeida brought her on his show. Genoa Keawe’s music career began to take off. After joining the radio music group, local entertainer Robert Luck formed a TV show called “The Lucky Luck Show”. Genoa and her group performed on the show from 1951-1955. Genoa was also featured on “Hawaii Calls”, a popular radio show based in Hawaii that was known throughout the world.Aunty Genoa Keawe, as people called her, enjoyed a very busy schedule performing at a variety of nightclubs throughout Honolulu, including (to name a few):
  • Club Polynesia
  • Aloha Grill
  • Kapahulu Tavern
  • Waikiki Tavern
  • Waikiki Sands
  • Sierra Café
  • Knights Inn
  • Steamboats
  • Ala Moana Americana Hotel
  • The Willows
  • Duke’s Canoe Club
Fast forward to the 21st century, and Genoa Keawe could still be found performing Hawaiian music in Waikiki. Her regular performances at the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort (formerly the Hawaiian Regent Hotel) were heralded as the best traditional Hawaiian performance in Waikiki by Honolulu Magazine in the years 2004 and 2005.

Facts about Genoa Keawe Genoa recorded over 20 albums

Her albums include vinyl LPs and 78 records She also recorded about 150 singles on vinyl 45s Her recordings can be found on the labels 49th State Records, Hula Records, Poki Records, and Genoa Keawe Records, Inc. Genoa traveled around the world to perform Hawaiian music:  Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Tonga, Canada, Switzerland, Russia, Switzerland, Brazil, Alaska and many more US cities.

Quotes from Aunty Genoa

“Respect the song writers’ melody and words. Always attempt to stay with the original melody of the music and make sure that the words you sing are correct, so when the music is transferred from generation to generation it will never be lost.”

“Learn your Hawaiian Language if you are singing Hawaiian. It will be an advantage for you to perform the music. You will be able to share the story that your song has to offer too many who do not speak our language. Our Hawaiian language is so beautiful.”

“I love today’s Hawaiian music, times change and new ideas evolve which is good for every new generation. As long as they remember their roots of whom they are and where they (their forefathers) came from.”

“As long as we live, Hawaiian music will always be here, if the generations in the future will listen to my counsel:

  • Respect the composers melody and words,
  • If you sing in Hawaiian know the meaning of your song, learn the language,
  • Remember your roots (forefathers)

If you do all this, Hawaiian music will continue forever and ever.”

Genoa’s popular song “Alika” can be heard in our Haleiwa Town video: Mahalo Aunty Genoa for sharing your music and aloha spirit with us!

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