Sistah Robi Kahakalau recalls “unbelievable” start to her long career in the Hawaiian music industry

Sistah Robi Kahakalau recalls “unbelievable” start to her long career in the Hawaiian music industry
Sistah Robi Kahakalau recalls "unbelievable" start to her long career in the Hawaiian music industry (Source: Neos Productions)

Multi Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner "Sistah Robi" Kahakalau just so happens to be Talk Story host McKenna Maduli's aunty. From Hawaiian Style Band to solo artist, Hawaiian music has been her calling. So was natural for the musician to go back to her roots at McKenna's family home in what she affectionately calls "Mount Kalihi" to muse over her life and career. She shared with McKenna what she calls many beautiful and precious moments at the Kata Hale, from rehearsals to parties to lots of belly laugh memories.

"I was just on cloud 9 to be with Makaha Sons," Kahakalau remembers, as she described coming to Kata Maduli's house for jam sessions. "I remember Makaha Sons were here, Cyril Pahinui, Dennis Pavao, everybody was in your garage and I was totally starstruck. I'm like, I am going on tour with these guys and we're rehearsing. It's was unbelievable. It was just in the very beginning. In no time we were a group that (was) inseparable and went all over the place."

The versatile female vocalist talked about her first album from 1995, "Sistah Robi, " admitting those songs are still some of the most requested. "I am just so grateful because I have only made five CDs total. "Keiki o Ka Aina," and then "All I Want," and then a long break. Then a Christmas album, then "Robi Calling" and then the single that just came out.

Kahakalau isn't done yet either. "I have songs that are stashed that are ready to record. Maybe I should talk to your dad. He's a great producer."

During the talk story, McKenna reminisced about a favorite "Sistah Robi" song that inspired the journalist living in Los Angeles at the time to move back to the islands for good. "I kind of wrote 'Makua' for people that move away and then make them so homesick (so) they move back home," the popular singer said. "I've heard other people say Makua makes them homesick." She acknowledges many locals living on the mainland don't live there by choice. "It's cheaper to live and more affordable. In their heart they all want to come home. Nobody should be deprived of living here."

Kahakalau is a third generation Hawaiian musician and had great year, releasing the song "Kalikoikawai" with Brickwood Galuteria that was nominated for a Na Hoku Hanohano Award.

About Sistah Robi Kahakalau:

Sistah Robi Kahakalau was born in Germany, and moved to the Hawaii in 1980, where she studied Hawaiian language. The entertainer speaks seven languages and was a teacher for many years at the University of Hawai'i. In her spare time, she enjoyed music and in 1990 because a singer with the Hawaiian Style Band. She's won two Na Hoku Hanohano Awards and has played with many celebrity musicians including the Eagles, Stevie Nicks, Stevie Wonder, Roy Orbison, Makaha Sons, Keali'i Reichel, and Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom.

For more information: @robikahakalaumusic, @ctmaduli

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.