Wednesday - March 12, 2008
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Aunty Genoa Keawe

To many, Aunty Genoa Keawe was a musician. To others, she was family. But to everyone, she was an inspiration. The famous Hawaiian falsetto singer left behind a legacy of rich musical talent, a desire to preserve Hawaiian traditions and the true meaning of Aloha.

Aunty Genoa, who passed away recently at the age of 89, graced the cover of MidWeek in November 1991 featuring her falsetto voice. In September 2005, she appeared on the cover again with Raiatea Helm. She is survived by three of her 12 children, Gary P. Keawe-Aiko, Eli Kaeo Paalua and Eric K. Keawe, 40 grandchildren, 98 great-grandchildren and 81 great-great-grandchildren. “I can only say that Mother truly was a special lady who was moved by faith, hope and charity,” says Eric, her youngest surviving son and manager, in an e-mail. “Everything she did would turn to gold, everywhere she went there was light, every time she sang there was such a good feeling of Aloha.”

Aunty Genoa began her musical career in Laie as a singer in a Mormon choir. She began singing professionally in 1939 for bandstand shows in Kailua and the Officers Club before World War II.

These early performances led to several venues around Oahu and eventually moved her to create her own record label, Genoa Keawe Records Inc., in 1969. Aunty Genoa was everything in the company: artist, producer and promoter. She recorded 20 albums and about 150 singles.

Aunty Genoa also continued to play at Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa every Thursday until the month she passed away.

Her career and passion for music have been recognized by dignitaries and organizations including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Gov. Linda Lingle, the Rotary Club and the University of Hawaii system. “The University of Hawaii ohana was truly honored to count her amongst its members as a friend and supporter, and especially as an educator,” states David McClain, UH system president.

In 2005, McClain presented Aunty Genoa with an honorary UH degree for her knowledge of and contribution to Hawaiian music. “Her talent and her music were an inspiration to us all, and though we are saddened by her passing, we are grateful to know that her spirit will live on through her music and through the lives of our students whom she has touched and inspired.”

For more information on Aunty Genoa’s life and music, visit

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