The Ekolu Decade
Lukela Keala, Makapu Hoopii and Akoni Dellomes have been racking up the No. 1 hits for the last 10 years, but they don’t let it go to their heads
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Akoni Dellomes (front), Makapu Hoopii (back) and
Lukela Keala have a strong bond off the stage as well
Instead of the usual cake and ice cream, the band Ekolu is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the release of its fourth album, Ekolu Music - a proud accomplishment for a humble group of guys who have come a long way from placing second to ballerina dancers at Baldwin High School’s Brown Bags To Stardom.
Since the release of their first album in 1999, Lukela Keala, Makapu Hoopii and Akoni Dellomes have been stacking the local airwaves with No. 1 hits - and they even picked up a few awards along the way. But don’t ever call these guys celebrities, because they much prefer being known as three regular local guys.
“It’s flattering when we get attention and people recognize us, but more than that we just really appreciate the fans,” says Dellomes.
“Sometimes people come up to me and ask me to sing to them,” Keala laughs. “We get all kinds of aloha from people on all the islands.”
Ekolu onstage at the Ala Moana Center Fourth of
July celebration in 2004
Ultimately this Maui trio genuinely understands that it’s their family, friends and fans who have carried them to where they are now. Keala, Hoopii and Dellomes remain rooted to their humble values and are true examples of what aloha spirit really is about.
“Down in Kapuna Valley where I was raised half my life we didn’t have electric; we had to wash clothes by hand and had lanterns for light,” says Keala. “It is partly because of my past that I am so grateful for the things I have now. So being humble is what makes us Ekolu.”
It is their deep appreciation for all their blessings that really sets these guys apart from the rest. By simply looking at the mahalos on the jackets of their CDs, it’s clear that giving thanks is a high priority. Where most artists list song lyrics and include cute pictures of themselves, these guys give thanks first to the Lord and then every single person that provides meaning in their life, which of course includes each other.
The friendship shared among Keala, Hoopii and Dellomes is nothing short of brotherhood, and their bond stretches way beyond the stage and the recording studio. The guys try to get together as much as they can and love poking fun at each other, which usually means a lot of sarcasm.
“We camp and hang out a lot and go diving,” says Hoopii.
“Oh yeah, and we also watch movies together, hold hands and sleep together,” jokes Keala. “But only sometimes.”
Just back from a gig in Tahiti, the men of Ekolu say that traveling is one of the perks of the business they will never take for granted. Even though they say Japan and Tahiti are two of the most exciting places they’ve traveled so far, don’t get them wrong - they most appreciate and enjoy performing for the fans of Hawaii.
“We love playing on every island, even though we’re from Maui,” says Keala. “I would even say we have an equal fan base on the islands.”
“In addition to playing for great
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