Remembering Aunty Genoa

Eric Keawe
Eric Keawe
Gina Kondo
Gina Kondo
Pikake Akiu-Eaton
Pikake Akiu-Eaton
Pomaikai Keawe
Pomaikai Keawe
Manuiki Lono
Manuiki Lono

By Mari-Ela David

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Thousands of people poured in and out of downtown Honolulu, all day and night, to say goodbye to Aunty Genoa Leilani Keawe, Hawaii's legendary songbird.

It's estimated that 5,000 people attended Aunty Genoa's services on Thursday - a testament to the kind of influence her music and spirit has made during the last six decades of her career.

Her voice captured Hawaii's heart, spreading the Aloha spirit throughout the islands and beyond during her 60-year music career.

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

Out of respect for the family, media was not allowed inside the funeral service. But based on the crowd spilling outside of Borthwick Mortuary, it is clear Aunty Genoa touched thousands of lives.

"Love and love and more love from so many. The room was filled with her spirit," said Gina Kondo, a friend of the family.

Aunty Genoa had an infectious spirit many say they will always cherish.

"It was so genuine. Her spirit was such a gentle sweet genuine spirit. I will miss that most of all," said Kondo.

"She's going to be really missed by everyone but her legend lives on," said Pikake Akiu-Eaton, Aunty Genoa's cousin.

Aunty Genoa's legend is passed down from generation to generation, especially within her family. Her granddaughter Pomaikai knows that first hand. She inherited Aunty Genoa's captivating 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," Pomaikai Keawe said.

Through music and dance, Aunty Genoa brought a little heaven on earth. Engraved in her songs are lessons of love.

"She's very strong spiritually in the Lord, so yes, we will miss her," said Manuiki Lono, Aunty Genoa's relative.

As loved ones say goodbye to Aunty Genoa, they say it's now up to them to keep her spirit alive.

Services continue Friday in Laie where Aunty Genoa grew up. Her grandchildren will carry her casket to the burial site in her hometown.

Aunty Genoa was 89 years old.