Since jazz vocalist Ginai appeared on MidWeek‘s cover in March 2006 for the release of her debut album, Jazz Island, things have only gotten busier. The local diva still sings every Friday at the Dragon Upstairs, is preparing to record another album and will be performing with the Honolulu Symphony in a tribute to Ray Charles Oct. 24 and 25.
“(Ray Charles) has always been a staple in my musical world,” says Ginai, noting this is her second Ray Charles-inspired concert. “The first one was a couple years ago with Abe Weinstein (isle jazz performer and promoter) right before he passed away.”
The concert happens at the Blaisdell Concert Hall and starts at 8 p.m. Ticket costs start at $20 and are on sale at the Honolulu Symphony’s website, www.honolulusymphony.com.
Ginai was most famous as a Whitney Houston impersonator during the 1980’s and ‘90s, and as a member of local swing band Hula Joe and the Hut Jumpers. “We’re currently known as the Hula Jumpers,” she says, noting that Hula Joe left the group. “We ended up having to go our separate ways, but I kept the music and the whole availability of the band going on my side.” Ginai owns the charts, outfits and band’s name, which plays mostly private engagements these days. “There’s been a new interest in the band just recently,” she adds. “Because of Big Wave Dave, (an old band member, who’d left for the Mainland) has just come back to Hawaii.”
The 30-year vocal veteran is working on a new CD full of original jazz, waltz and swing songs from song-writer Lora May Tuafasau, the wife of Dragon Upstairs owner Hank. “The CD is all tied in to where I play every week,” she says. “It’s all in the family, so it’s really good.”
The weekly gig with musician Pierre Grill is usually packed, says Ginai. “Between the two of us, we play some pretty exciting music,” she says. “We’ve been there for two years and it’s been a great run.”
Ginai is still happily married to big wave surfer Ted Curti, lives on the North Shore and is mom to three children, Nichele, Joli and Aidan.
For more information, to listen to her music or see more images of Ginai, visit http://www.ginai.com. You can also catch Ginai’s Friday night gigs at The Dragon Upstairs on Nuuanu Avenue in Chinatown.
“I look forward to a long and fruitful career and hope to sing until the day I die,” Ginai says. “If I could, I’d sing at my own funeral.”
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