Emotional tribute honors the life of Kalapana’s Malani Bilyeu

Family members hug mourners at Malani's Bilyeu's funeral at Kawaiahao Church.
Family members hug mourners at Malani's Bilyeu's funeral at Kawaiahao Church.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Jan. 13, 2019 at 12:05 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A day after a funeral on Kauai, another memorial service for beloved musician Malani Bilyeu took place on Oahu on Saturday.

Family and friends gathered at Kawaiahao Church to remember one of the founding members of Kalapana.

Malani Bilyeu’s wife sang her heart out in front of the crowd. His memorial service was filled with musical performances, including one by Henry Kapono.

“I’m going to miss him and I love him very much,” said Kapono. “Hopefully, his family is going to be good and be able to take care of each other.”

Bilyeu, 69, was a member of Kalapana since the group formed in the early 1970s.

They received a Na Hoku Hanohano lifetime achievement award in 2011.

Bilyeu died last month on Kauai. The group has managed to carry on, performing a tribute to him on New Year’s Eve.

“We’re not going to quit. We’ve gone through this before when Mack(ey Feary) passed away. We just have to bear down and come up with a good solution for the problem. and we’re still going to go. The music lives on,” said band member D.J. Pratt.

While fans around the world knew Bilyeu from Kalapana, those close to him recalled a lifetime of memories.

“Malani growing up as a child in Kalihi-Palama and going to Kalakaua School and Farrington. He got started with the Kalihi Phantoms. He played with them,” recalled his cousin, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim. “He was just a gifted, gifted person when it came to music. He just had this ear for it and he was so humble about it."

Bilyeu is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The burial is set for Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. at the Hawaii Veterans Cemetery in Kaneohe.

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