Hawaii Mom Blog: Manoa Valley Theatre Music and Comedy Series Continues with Karen Keawehawai`i






January 2, 2019

Manoa Valley Theatre Music and Comedy Series Continues with Karen Keawehawai`i

Manoa Valley Theatre continues its momentous 50th anniversary season with the expansion of its Studio Series with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Island Treasure Music and Comedy Series. The theatre is presenting some of Hawaii's favorite entertainers in a six-part subscription series that began in November with the incomparable Shari Lynn and runs through August of 2019. Next up in the exciting series is local icon Karen Keawehawai’i on January 15th. Tickets are available at www.manoavalleytheatre.com and by calling (808) 988-6131.

Karen Keawehawai’i
Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Karen Keawehawai’i is a multiple award-winning vocalist. For more than four decades she has entertained Hawaii audiences and visitors with a blend of her uniquely versatile voice, charismatic personality and homespun humor. She has also been a successful recording artist and television performer.

Karen is a mom, a grandma a proud Hawaiian, and also, a talented entertainer. It's the pride in the first two identities that fuel the humility in the third. Calling herself a trendsetter is about as far as the affable mother of four will go in describing herself. Not that she has to. This Kalihi girl's accomplishments speak for themselves. Strung together, they make a list that's as long as most people's resumes. She won her first major music title in 1980 capturing Most Promising Artist at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. Three years after her "Rhythms of the Island's" album earned her the designation of Female Vocalist of the Year by the Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts, an honor that re-visited her in 1984. In 1993, she won the Entertainer of the Year award from Honolulu Magazine.

Karen's career has flourished since 1976, when her uniquely versatile voice and charismatic personality charmed veteran entertainer Al Harrington, who asked her to join his show as the featured female vocalist. It was not until she could secure a contract for her group where they performed that Karen began the rigorous three-year, two-show-a-night commitment at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Dome.

Although inspired by her parents, Winona Kahaleohu Holokai and John Ka'onohiokala Keawehawai'i, who were part-time professional entertainers, Karen's passion for music first took shape in her early years as a member of her church choir.

"The stage becomes livelier when Karen Keawehawai'i comes on," wrote Ben Wood in The Honolulu Star-Bulletin. That's because Karen's repartee is as witty, and sometimes raucous (although G-rated), as any contemporary Hawaiian Entertainer. "The comedy all starts with me laughing at myself," says Karen, who is known for performing off-script.

In 1978 she recorded her first solo album, "Karen" that included her father singing his composition "My Yellow Ginger Lei." The album, dedicated to her mother was changed to include her father too who passed away on Christmas Eve that year. The album was released in 1979.

Under her Kaleolani Record label five albums followed. Then, in 1990, she released seven cassettes featuring 81 songs of hapa haole favorites with her singing on side A and karaoke sound tracks on side B. Since then, Karen has developed her vocal styles to include Hawaiian, Pop, Country, Jazz, Classical and Rhythm 'N. Blues.

Today, Karen's face, as well as her voice, is recognized throughout Hawai'i as William Conrad's secretary on "Jake and the Fat man" and as the former co-host of the Island's own Jackpot Bingo show, aired back in 1986 on KGMB TV. She was the co-host of the Miss Hawai'i Pageant for ten years and had co-hosted the Children's Miracle Network Telethon. She has appeared in over 20 public service announcements for various charities and has appeared on television numerous times in paid product advertisements. "Eh! You somebody...!" a line used in a commercial for Wendy's is still a popular phrase today.

Much to her delight, Karen has also had the honor of performing over 70 community concerts with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. She has volunteered her time and her talent to a host of local charitable organizations including Goodwill Industries, North Kona Community Hospital, Aloha United Way, Hawai'i Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), to name just a few. Karen shared the stage with Jim Nabors in "Christmas with Friends and Nabors" for ten years at the Hawai'i Theatre and has performed many times with The Royal Hawaiian Band.

Despite her celebrity status, her accomplishments, and all her awards, Karen still sees herself as Karen, local girl, and a good friend. "Before I can feel good about an award I need to feel happy about what I've done," she declares. "To get the award is just icing on the cake, because, if there is anything that would be my legacy - it has to be my children first and then my music.”

Curtain time is 7:30 p.m.; bar service will be available. Tickets for the six shows are $225, which includes a $30 discount; individual tickets for each event are $40, except for Willie K, which is $75 now on sale at 988-6131 or visit manoavalleytheatre.com.

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