Family, Friends Bid Aloha to Hawaii's Songbird

Pomaika'i Keawe
Pomaika'i Keawe
Nickie Hines
Nickie Hines

NUUANU (KHNL) -- Thousands came out Thursday to pay their final respects to a Hawaiian music legend.  She was a woman who performed with grace and beauty.  And now the late Genoa Leilani Keawe is remembered.

The funeral service was held at the Borthwick Mortuary in Nuuanu, and well wishers were still trickling in late evening for a chance to say aloha to Aunty Genoa.

Her voice has captivated generations of music lovers.  Aunty Genoa Keawe's career spanned more than six decades, gaining admiration from fans and fellow musicians alike.

"Very giving, very loving," said Nickie Hines, Aunty Genoa's long-time friend.  "Always saying, 'I love you, I love you, I love you.'"

Thursday family, friends, and fans gathered at Borthwick Mortuary to pay their respects.

"I think she would be very happy and I think she would be very proud to know the influence that she's had not only in Hawaii but throughout the world," said her son Eric Keawe.

He said Aunty Genoa was pretty much a typical mom, but when she hit the stage, she transformed into Hawaii's songbird.

"You could feel her spirits, the music, even if you didn't know the words, the Hawaiian music, you could feel the spirit in the songs," said Eric Keawe. "And it was like, Wow, that's my mom!'"

Her granddaughter Pomaika'i inherited Aunty Genoa's legendary voice.

"She left me and she left all of us, the whole state of Hawaii a great legacy and I think we're all excited to watch it progress," said Pomaika'i Keawe.

Aunty Genoa's music also included other Hawaiian artists.

"Every kumu hula that ever enjoyed mom's music used it to teach the basic steps of hula," said Eri Keawe.

So Thursday, her family and friends celebrate her life, honor her amazing career.

"She may have left us here, but she continues on through the music and that's what's happening inside," said Pomaika'i Keawe.

"I would tell her like she would tell me, 'I love you,'" said Hines. "That was her favorite words, 'I love you.'  She was that way and we loved her dearly, every one of us."

Thursday night's funeral service lasted just past 8 pm. Services continue Friday at her hometown of Laie.