the many facets of AFATIA THOMPSON

At 29, Afatia Thompson is many things: a former UH football player, husband, father, fire-knife dancer, free diver and production manager for his parents’ company, Tihati Productions. He’s also a Hoku-winning musician who’s trying to make it as an R&B singer. He’ll open for national star 50 Cent at the Blaisdell March 28. A man who wears many hats, Afatia Thompson takes a big step in his

Melissa Moniz
Friday - March 21, 2008
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Afatia: the man can sing
Afatia: the man can sing

Meet Afatia Thompson, a young man with many faces: former UH football player, husband, Punahou grad, son, fire-knife dancer, singer, free diver, songwriter and most recently father.

At just 29 years old, Afatia has experienced the ins and outs of the Polynesian entertainment industry through his parents, Jack and Cha Thompson of Tihati Productions, to the pressures of playing college football. He understands what it takes to be a loving father and have the unmatched devotion of a caring wife. He knows firsthand what it’s like to be the little fish in a big pond, as the ethnic minority at Punahou School. And he also recognizes the meaning of adversity, having knocked on many doors in pursuit of his music career only to be told that he needs to do Hawaiian/Island music to get radio play.

But the biggest blow was during his freshman year in high school when his big brother Eli passed away.

Afatia and wife Nicole at last year's Na Hoku Hanohano Awards
Afatia and wife Nicole at last year’s Na Hoku Hanohano Awards

“Thinking of my brother and him not being here, that’s always my drive,” says Afatia. “I don’t think that will ever change. I always think about him and question what he would do in this situation. He’s been my motivation always.”

In memory of his brother, Afatia titled his first album 5:54, which are his (5) and his brother’s (54) numbers when they played football in high school. Although his brother played for Saint Louis and he played for Punahou, 5:54 always meant that it was their time when they took the field. This is also why Afatia chose to play ball at UH-Manoa.

“Before he died, he had just sent a letter of intent to UH, and that’s why I went,“says Afatia. “When he signed, he asked me if I would go to UH, too, so we could play together, since we didn’t get to play together because we went to different schools. So I went.”

Afatia has used the challenges served to him as a reason to try harder and is now on his way to his dream of making it big. He’s taking his Island boy charm and undeniable vocal talent mainstream in hopes to make his mark on the national R&B scene.

Thompson family
Thompson family portrait taken in 1992. Front (left to right) Cha, Jack, (back) Ruana, Misty, Eli and Afatia

Having already laid down some tracks with names such as Mario Winans, Walter Millsap, Rodney Jerkins and the R&B group Next, Afatia’s upcoming opening performance at the 50 Cent concert at the Blaisdell is just the push that he needs to take his music to Mainland markets.

“I’m excited about the concert, and I really just want to get this first big one under my belt,” says Afatia. “I’ve been an athlete my whole life, so I’ve always felt that I’m a game-plan player. So when the lights go on, I do it the best that I can. Whether it’s football or music, all I can do is be me and do my best.”

With a musical career that pours from his beginnings as the lead singer for Reign, to a solo career that resulted in the release of two albums and winning a Na Hoku Hanohano Award,Afatia has his eyes set on what most people call a crossover. And he’s doing it on the wings of his family’s company, Tihati Productions.

With his parents still at the helm, Afatia and his sisters, Misty and Ruana, have taken the lead with the inner working of the company’s many productions and events. The company also recently added a concert promotions division, 5:54 Entertainment, which was conceptualized by Afatia.

“With the Tihati thing, it was a no-brainer for me to create a partnership company under the company name,” says Afatia, who


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