“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” -Oprah

I’ve been extremely blessed to perform with HAPA on multiple occasions over the past five years. Each time is special, and I am filled with gratitude every time Barry Flanagan so generously shares his stage with me. If my solo guitar of previous years was my opportunity to share aloha, how could I amplify the aloha this year? Well, my answer was to be joined by fellow musicians Claudia Goddard and Chris Davis and the dancers of Pua Ali’i ‘Ilima o Nuioka!

The group surrounding me, no doubt, lifted me higher. In our 25-minute program, the dancers presented oli, hula kahiko, and hula ʻauana – complete with three costume changes. Our set included Holo Mai Pele, Waimanalo, A Kona Hema, Ka ʻApapane Hulu ʻUla, Ka Lehua I Milia, and Hawaiʻi With You. Two of the songs are originals, Ka ʻApapane Hulu ʻUla composed by Claudia Goddard and Chris Davis’ Hawaiʻi With You as heard in the film The Little Tin Man. We had so much fun performing for the amazing crowd that turned out. A special thank you to Kumu Vicky Holt Takamine whose blessing and support made our opening act performance possible.

The evening marked the New York debut of HAPA’s newest addition, Kapono Nā‘ili‘ili, a singer, Hawaiian chanter, multi-instrumentalist, hula dancer, and winner of Maui’s prestigious Richard Ho‘opi‘i Falsetto Contest in 2007. Nā‘ili‘ili who is known for his beautiful vocals and his mastery of a multitude of instruments is a natural compliment to Barry Flanagan (vocals/guitar) and Tarvin Makia (vocals/bass guitar.) Miss Hawaii USA 2006 Radasha Hoʻohuli danced elegantly and beautifully throughout the evening. HAPA’s energetic set included HAPA classics in addition to unique covers. They closed the show with James Taylor’s “You Can Close Your Eyes” with Barry playing guitar and a three part vocal arrangement. This is a personal favorite song of mine, one that we play on CD every night for our kids at bed time.

FYI, the band, in its new configuration, recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new studio album. Check it out: Join with HAPA to record a magical new Hawaiian album!

A big mahalo to my partners in crime for the evening. An even bigger thank you to friends, family, and everyone who came to the show!

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