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The Slack Key Show with your hosts George Kahumoku Jr and the Ukulele Boyz

Vocal Guest Artist... Richard Hoopii

Uncle Richard Ho'opi'i is one of Hawai'i's most beloved singers. Best known as one half of the popular Maui duo, The Ho'opi'i Brothers, he has been practicing the traditional Hawaiian art of leo ki'eki'e (falsetto) for most of his life. He and his brother, Solomon (his life-long singing partner) were recipients of the prestigious National Endowment of the Arts Folk Heritage Fellowship, America's highest honor for traditional artists.

Born in the tiny village of Kahakuloa, on Maui's remote Northwest coast, Uncle Richard grew up immersed in the rural Hawaiian lifestyle of family, church, taro farming, fishing, and homemade entertainment. There was no TV, not even much radio, so everyone in the village helped make the music. "That's what we still do in Kahakuloa every day," Richard says. "Fame comes and goes, but the music of the village is always here with us in our hearts and in our memories."

As a child, Richard sang while doing his chores, at church and at school. "It just came naturally," he says, "You didn't have to think about it, you just did it." As a teenager, Richard was invited to join the All Maui Choir, under the direction of the legendary Royal Hawaiian Band singer Alice Johnson. Slack key guitarist Sonny Chillingworth provided valuable professional experience by inviting young Richard to perform with his band on occasion. Kumu hula also enlisted his aid on a regular basis. "What an honor," he says. "I wish all the mo'opuna (grandchildren) could get the kind of opportunities brother Sol and I had growing up. Aunty Alice, Aunty Emma Sharpe, Uncle Sonny, Aunty Genoa Keawe, our mom and dad, brothers and sisters. They taught us so much more than music; it was a whole way of living.

In 1968, Richard and his brother Sol started their own group, The Ho'onanea Serenaders, which after several years became known as The Ho'opi'i Brothers. Together they recorded seven albums and performed widely. Whether at a folk festival in France, a classroom visit to Kaua'i or a church ho'ike back home on Maui, the feeling and the focus of the brothers has always remained the same. "We're just people, the same as anyone else," says Richard. "We're country people, maka'ainana; family people trying to pass on to our kamali'i and mo'opuna the culture we knew in the village growing up.".

A 1997 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Folk Heritage Fellowship, America's highest honor for traditional artists, Uncle Richard knows that, like all Hawaiian artists, he maintains a rich cultural legacy. "When you sing Hawaiian music you're not just singing for yourself," he says. "You're representing the kupuna, who have guided and inspired you, and all the musicians that came before and will come after. That's why it's so important to do your best; not to show off, but to share what the kupuna and Ke Akua have shared with you."

In the year 2000, Uncle Sol retired from full time performing for health reasons and to devote more time to his church work. A deacon in the Kahakuloa Hawaiian church, Uncle Richard also considered retiring at this point, but his work as a Maui County culture specialist and the encouragement of family and friends convinced him that he still has more to share.

Released in 2003, his CD "Ululani" represented a new journey for Richard as a solo artist. For his first solo project, Uncle Richard wanted to record a mixture of favorite songs from his hometown of Kahakuloa on Maui, performed in the old way. The recording showcases his unique style of singing and firmly establishes Uncle Richard as a individual performer.

Richard is featured on four of our compilation CDs: Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar -Live from Maui  and Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar which were respectively honored with the 49th and 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards for Best Hawaiian Music Album.  And again featured on our 2008 compilation CD: The Spirit of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar  (2008 Daniel Ho Records) which was nominated for the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards for Best Hawaiian Music Album! And most recently, he is featured on our newest and just released compilation CD: Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Vol 2  (2009 Daniel Ho Records) which just won the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards for Best Hawaiian Music Album!

See and hear Uncle Richard perform in The Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Concert Series
at the Napili Kai Beach Resort, Maui on August 18, 2010.

(Richard previously performed in this concert series on June 16, and February 24, 2010 and previously in 2009 on June 24, May 13 and February 4, 2009 and before that in 2008 on October 22, October 1, April 30, and January 2, 2008. Prior to that, he performed in this series at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, Maui on April 18, 2007, before that on June 28 and March 1, in 2006 and before that, October 5 and July 12, in 2005, and in 2004 on December 21, August 24, June 15, April 27 and January 13.)

 

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Buy the CDs

 

Maui’s Grammy Winning Show 

Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar -Vol 2
Masters of Hawaiian
Slack Key Guitar Vol 3

Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar -Vol 2
Masters of Hawaiian
Slack Key Guitar Vol 2

The Spirit of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar
Spirit of Hawaiian
Slack Key Guitar

Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar
Treasures of Hawaiian
Slack Key Guitar

Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar
Legends of Hawaiian
Slack Key Guitar

Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar
Masters of Hawaiian
Slack Key Guitar -Vol 1