The Merrie Monarch Festival wouldn’t be the same without his booming voice
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kimo Kahoano hosted his first Merrie Monarch Festival in 1981 after being asked by late co-founder, Auntie Dottie Thompson.
The 74-year-old thought it was for one year only.
“One year. This is great. Oh yeah. I’ll be there,” recalled Kahoano.
But more than four decades later, he’s known as the iconic voice of the Merrie Monarch Festival.
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“I didn’t think I had this great voice or anything,” he said.
His mastery of long Hawaiian words with style is legendary and Kahoano says it’s like riding a wave.
“One year I got this long name for Miss Aloha Hula. I said ‘wow look at this name,’” he said.
It was Kilioulaninuiamamaohoʻopiʻiwahinekapualokeokalaniākea Lai.
He calls it one of the most unique names of the Merrie Monarch Festival ― and he could say it.
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Kahoano says it’s a must to give the dancers and kumu hula the proper introduction.
“You practice, but you also better be aware of what the kumu wants to hear,” said Kahoano. “I want to make sure I do ‘um right. If you don’t do the halau right and kumu hula, you are in big trouble,” he added, with a smile.
He credits his wife, Leilani, for urging him to do even more to study the Hawaiian language, which they did.
“So we go back and I learn the enunciation of our language. I wish I had the gift of ‘Olelo Hawaii,” he said.
Hawaii News Now asked Kahoano if there’s one halau that he really likes to watch.
“I love them all. For what they give,” he said, with tears in his eyes.
After all, Kahoano wears his emotions on the sleeve of his aloha shirt and says he gives his heart to the Merrie Monarch Festival every year.
“It’s an art. It’s a love,” he said.
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