McKenna Maduli, host of Talk Story, takes us back to 2019 when she got to sit down with legendary Hawaiian singer Momi Bee Kahawaiola’a. Momi Bee, who is now a bright-eyed 93 years young, reflects on her many blessings over the years. She credits her musical influences to be Lena Machado and Aunty Genoa Keawe who was more like a sister to her than an Aunt. They sang and toured together for many years sharing their music and aloha spirit with the world. In 2019, Momi was honored with a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award for her lasting influence in traditional Hawaiian Music. When McKenna asks Momi how she would like to be remembered in the future, she replies, " Let’s hope they remember that I just loved my music and that I have been blessed abundantly all the way."
About: Carol Momi Bee was born December 29, 1926 and was raised in the Kaka’ako and Punchbowl/ Miller Street areas. Young Momi began singing at the age of twelve, performing with her sisters, Henrietta and Esther, as The Bee Sisters, first at their church. Then, they were discovered by Johnny Almeida on his radio show where their aunty, Genoa Keawe, was already performing. Johnny asked them to record the song “Hukilau” in 1950 and it became an instant classic.
Then Momi began a career as a professional musician. The Bee Sisters, now consisting of Momi, Esther Nakoa, and Primrose Piliwale, performed in various venues all over Hawai’i and beyond. Over the years, her and her husband Antone Joseph Kahawaiola’a Jr. had four children.
Momi has performed all over the world including places like Japan, Guam, Saipan, Canada, and San Francisco. Although she is well traveled, Momi has also held many long-standing gigs at home. Today, Momi Bee Kahawaiola’a is embraced by the love of a large family and continues to sing and play.