With Mother's Day imminent, Henry Kapono Ka'aihue felt inspired to write the song "Mommy." The song came to him, "watching my 2-and-a-half-year-old twins and thinking about how much they love their mother, how much I loved my mother and how important mothers are to who we become," he says.
Henry will sing this new song plus old favorites on Saturday at a benefit concert at the Royal Lahaina Resort.
"An Evening in Paradise" will raise funds for the Hawaii Hotel & Lodging Association's 31st annual Visitor Industry Charity Walk. Last year, the Charity Walk raised more than $1 million to help over 190 charities statewide.
Henry Kapono presents “An Evening in Paradise,” a benefit concert Saturday at the Royal Lahaina Resort.
Hawaii Film Partners/E.Y. YANAGI photo
Willie K plays a Tahitian chief in a role written for him in “You May Not Kiss the Bride,” a new movie filming on Oahu.
KENT STEWART photo
Violinist Arnaud Sussman (second from left) joined fellow Maui Classical Music Festival musicians, cellist David Requiro (from left), violinist Diana Cohen, violist Yizhak Schotten, pianist Katherine Collier and pianist David Deveau shortly after arriving on Maui. The classical music festival ends Friday with a concert at Makawao Union Church.
"It will be a big mixed plate," says Henry about the concert. "I've been writing all kinds of new stuff, so there will be new songs as well. I wrote one for my twin children, 'All Our Love,' and I wrote "Mommy" for Mother's Day."
After the Maui show, the multi-Na Hoku Award winning musician jets back to Oahu for a "Mother's Day Brunch with the Stars" at the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort on Sunday. Henry will perform it as a duet with former "American Idol" finalist Camile Velasco.
"I thought it would be neat if we both sang it," he says. "We're talking about making it as a free download, but I don't know if Camile can do the recording because of contractual stuff."
* Henry Kapono and his band perform on Saturday at the Royal Lahaina Resort. Beginning at sunset on the resort's oceanfront Villas Lawn, the event will include food, beverages, a silent auction and the concert. Concert tickets are $40. A premier package for $65 includes pre-concert entertainment from 6 to 8 p.m., pupu buffet and the concert. VIP tables for 10 are also available at $650, which includes everything in the premium package, plus reserved table seating. Tickets can be reserved by calling 661-3611.
* The Maui Classical Music Festival presents a final concert on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Makawao Union Church. Suggested donation is $25, $10 students; for advanced reservations, call 878-2312.
And there's another new song that he helped compose especially for an 8-year-old young girl, Elikia, who is suffering with acute myelocytic leukemia. Henry wrote the music to accompany Elikia's lyrics and he asked Jasmine Trias to sing as a special Make-A-Wish Hawaii treat.
"She wrote a poem and wanted it put to music," he explains. "She wanted it like the Cheetah Girls. Somehow I got all the lyrics in, and I asked Jasmine and we recorded it for her. We got a chance to put a little light in her life."
When the producers of new romantic adventure comedy, "You May Not Kiss the Bride," created a part for a Tahitian village chief, they knew there was only one man for the job - Maui's Willie K.
A Hawaii Film Partners production, the movie stars Dave Annable, Mena Suvari, Rob Schneider, "American Idol" finalist Katharine McPhee, British actor Vinnie Jones and recent Hawaiian Grammy winner Tia Carrere. And while this movie in production is set in Chicago and Tahiti, it was all filmed in Hawaii.
When Willie K got a call about a role especially written for him he was quite surprised, to say the least.
"The agent called and talked to my wife," Willie explains. "I said tell him no because I've been auditioning for 15 years and never got a part in any movie. My wife said, 'No honey, they wrote the script for you, you don't have to audition at all.' They wrote this part especially for me. I couldn't believe it. I didn't believe it until we actually had a production meeting."
A comedic mobster tale with a Green Card-inspired "hands-off" marriage plot, the characters wind up in Tahiti where they encounter our man Willie, who delivers his lines in Tahitian.
"I basically wrote my own script and created some lines and sent them to some friends in Tahiti and they sent a translation back," he reports. "It was good, but really hard work. I really like it because it was something different. It was great because I've been on stage with Eric (Gilliom) and doing 'Rocky Horror,' and got to do a TV commercial."
Willie and Tia Carrere will talk about their filming experience on "Emme's Island Moments," airing at 9 p.m. May 28 and 3 p.m. May 30 on KHON2.
With one role down, could this portend a new avenue for the multitalented artist?
"I've had a couple of movie offers already," he continues. "It's all good. When you finally make up your mind to let things happen, they do."
Interviewed before he flew to Europe, Willie has embarked on a German tour opening for British soul band Simply Red. And there's talk about some dates with ZZ Top.
"I'm playing all these huge arenas," he says. "I'm going on tour for a couple of weeks, and then I'll have a break, and probably hang out with ZZ Top too."
While Willie's off in Germany, John Cruz will fill in at Mulligan's on the Blue playing on Wednesday evening, and on May 27. Cruz recently performed at the SXSW fest in Austin Texas, and earlier in the year, at the request of the president, sang "Island Style" with Jack Johnson for Barack Obama at an inaugural ball.
The annual Maui Classical Music Festival will close Friday night with a "Musical Fireworks" concert at Makawao Union Church. The program will feature music by Mendelssohn, Paganini, Villa-Lobos, Devienne, Rolla and Wieniawski. This classical feast will be played by some artists familiar to Maui audiences, and a few rising stars including 24-year-old French violinist Arnaud Sussmann.
Winner of the first prize at the International Andrea Postacchini Competition in Fermo, Italy, and the Vatelot/Rampal International competition in Paris, Sussman was just honored with a $25,000 Avery Fisher Career Grant, one of most prestigious awards in classical music.
"I feel very proud and honored," says Sussman. "It's probably the most prestigious prize a young musician can get in America. It's by nomination only by leading artists in the classical field, and it's awarded to four or five young musicians every year. It's much better than a competition; I didn't have to do anything."
Raised in France, Sussman was passionate about classical music from an early age. He studied at The Juilliard School, earning bachelor's and master's degrees. He studied with violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, who chose him to be a Starling Fellow, an honor qualifying him as Perlman's teaching assistant for the past two years.
"I studied with him for six years and it's been an incredible experience," he enthuses. "I've had the chance to play with him quite a few times."
So how does it feel to be acclaimed as a rising star in classical music?
"I try not to think about it," he says. "I guess it's a nice status to have because there is a period after you're a rising star and before you've risen to the top that is difficult. I just practice a lot, play my concerts, and have fun with what I do."