Danny Kaleikini

Steve Murray
Wednesday - March 08, 2006
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Danny Kaleikini
Danny Kaleikini

For more than 30 years, Danny Kaleikini has been the spiritual and physical embodiment of aloha. Through his music, cultural promotion, historical awareness and charity, he has touched the hearts of millions - and now it’s time to say thank you.

On March 31, St. Francis Healthcare Foundation of Hawaii and Hawaiian 105 KINE will honor the city and state’s Ambassador of Aloha with a tribute at the very theater where, as a child, he earned money shining shoes.

“An Evening of Aloha: A tribute to Danny Kaleikini at the Hawaii Theatre” features chants, jazz and Hawaiian music along with performers such as Jimmy Borges, Kanoe Cazimero, Cathy Foy, Nephi Hannemann, Kimo Kahoano, Bill Kaiwa, Iva Kinimaka, Leimomi Maldonado, Nalani Olds, Rene Paulo and Kit Samson.

“The money we raise that night goes to St. Francis Health Care and Hospice. Their plan is to build a third hospice in East Oahu,” Kaleikini says. “For me, to gather some of my old friends to perform with me, it’s a blessing.”

And no doubt a blessing for those in attendance, who will not only be treated to wonderful music and dance, but also to a look back in history through video tapes that have documented his career. So don’t be surprised to go from a Hawaiian chant to a tape of Kaleikini and Dolly Parton singing the Hawaiian Wedding Song or Kaleikini sharing the stage with Sammy Davis Jr. in Japan.

“I thank God he gave me a talent,” he says. “Because of this talent, I got to see the world. I’ve sung for kings, queens, presidents. I’ve sung for dignitaries, I’ve sung for real people, regular people. All of it because of aloha.”

And that’s the key for anyone who has met Kaleikini. Everyone’s the same whether in charge of a nation or a small family in Papakolea. It’s aloha and family. Something that, though used in everyday conversation, Kaleikini does not take lightly.

“I was very honored to be proclaimed the Ambassador of Aloha by Gov. Waihee. It was not an honor that I bestowed upon myself, but for the people of Hawaii. We all have to share aloha. That’s what makes us so unique and different - especially today. I’ve always said you can’t stop progress, but don’t lose that Hawaiian heartbeat.”

Kaleikini said without his family, the success he has had would be nonexistent, and that ohana and aloha have been the grounding factors of his life. “I’ve always been a big believer in aloha ke kahi ke kahi, the love we share with one another. I think that is so important, especially today.”

“An Evening of Aloha: A tribute to Danny Kaleikini” happens March 31 at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $75 and are available at the Hawaii Theatre box office.

- Steve Murray

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