Concerts & Clubs / “The purpose was to find the musicians out there that just have the love of Hawaiian music and give them the opportunity to play in Waikiki,” says Luana Maitland, music director of Kani Ka Pila Grille, which held the finals of their 4th annual Talent Search last month at the Made In Hawaii Festival. “This year [had] a lot to do with the stories of the actual people. The music was there already.”
In Kamakakehau Fernandez’s case, the African American was born in Arkansas and adopted at six weeks old, raised on Maui and enrolled in the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program at King Kekaulike High School. With his impressive falsetto voice, touching back-story and warm spirit, he beat out almost 25 other competitors to become the winner.
Though it was a contest, Fernandez reflects on the talent search as just a way to share aloha with others. “It’s all about exposure,” he says. “We take every opportunity that comes. At Kani Ka Pila … I get to do what I do, which is share the music.” Last chance to see him there is tomorrow.