Genoa Keawe

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Genoa Leilani Adolpho Keawe-Aiko: October 31, 1918 - February 25, 2008

Click to read Honolulu-Advertiser tribute page

Born in 1918 the Kaka`ako neighborhood of Honolulu, Genoa Keawe began her singing career in Lai`e at age 12, when she joined the Mormon choir. A year after graduating from eighth grade, she met and married her husband Edward and began her family of 12 children.

Genoa's music training began in Lai`e when she started to sing with the Mormon choir. Genoa's sister, Annie, has been a great influence in Genoa's career. Before church concerts, they would bring out a church hymn book and sing the songs. Annie would sing the alto parts as Genoa sang the soprano. Esther, their eldest sister, would purchase new clothes for Genoa's special performances. She recalls running home from school during lunch hours to listen to Johnny K. Almeida's radio show. Genoa is very active in her church work and attributes much of her success to Heavenly Father's help.

Soon after, her professional career began in 1939, she sang for bandstand shows in Kailua and the Officers Club with George Ho`okano and his band. One day while listening to a radio show in the 1940's featuring Johnny K. Almeida, people were encouraged to call in and sing a song. On a dare by her friends, Genoa ventured the challenge. She requested that she be allowed to sing a birthday song to her niece. The song was, "For You A Lei". After hearing her, Johnny asked her to come back and sing again. Joe Keawe, a distant relative, was asked to approach Genoa on behalf of Johnny K. Almeida to invite her back -- which she did. Eventually she joined the group to sing on KULA radio. Robert Luck started a TV show in Hawai`i -- "The Lucky Luck Show" -- and featured Genoa and her group as regulars from 1951-1955. She was also a featured soloist in the popular internationally-broadcast radio show "Hawaii Calls" for a few shows. In 1964 she sang with the Honolulu Rapid Transit Musicians on KGU radio.

Genoa enjoyed music so much that she entertained every weekend during her early years. The night clubs were Club Polynesia (6 nights a week), Aloha Grill, Kapahulu Tavern, Waikiki Tavern, Waikiki Sands, Sierra Café, Knights Inn, Steamboats, Ala Moana Americana Hotel, the Willows, Duke’s Canoe Club, & many more. The Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort is where "Aunty Genoa" has been performing every Thursday, 6-9 PM for the past 10 years. It is labeled the best traditional Hawaiian performance in Waikiki by the Honolulu Magazine 2004, 2005.