Beloved Maui musician 'Uncle' Richard Hoopii dies at 76

Beloved Maui musician 'Uncle' Richard Hoopii dies at 76
Published: Mar. 3, 2018 at 5:32 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2018 at 10:10 AM HST
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(Image: Lynn Piccoli)
(Image: Lynn Piccoli)
(Image: The Hoopii family)
(Image: The Hoopii family)

KAHAKULOA, MAUI (HAWAII NEWS NOW) - Beloved Maui musician and famous falsetto singer Richard Hoopii died early Saturday morning, his family confirmed.

Often referred to as "Uncle Richard," Hoopii was less than two weeks away from his 77th birthday on March 15.

He died just after midnight Saturday surrounded by family at his home in Kahakuloa.

Hoopii would often perform with his late brother Solomon, known as the popular duo, Hoopii Brothers.

Their first album, No Ka Oi was released in 1975 and the pair went on to record six more albums together.

They received the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship in 1996, were Group of the Year Award winners in 1997 and won the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts.

Hoopii and his brother shared their Hawaiian music with audiences around the world.

After Solomon died in 2006, Richard continued in his musical journey and recorded the album "Ululani" named for his wife.

"When he traveled all over the world, he always had a smile and wanted to represent his Hawaiian culture and his love for our Savior Jesus Christ," said Torie Hoopii, Richard's daughter-in-law.

In November 2017, Hoopii was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia.

After months in recovery and under hospice care, his request was to return to his Kahakuloa Valley home in early February.

Family says he was supposed to have a heart valve replacement, that was derailed by the unfortunate bout of sickness.

Family, friends and musical colleagues will remember him for his smile and gentle soul and a man who was the true embodiment of aloha.

"The beauty of uncle is that his music will always live on through all of us," said Ikaika Blackburn of Na Hoa.

"It's a testament to the years of art through Rick Hoopii that we're able to have so many young people picking up the mantle and singing in this gorgeous style and sharing it with all of us," said Hawaiian radio personality Harry Soria. "So mahalo Richard 'Rick' Hoopii."

Richard Hoopii is survived by his wife Priscilla, daughters Regina and Rozanne and sons Richard Jr., Ruben Kai and Chico Kaanohi. His fourth son Ramzey died in 2014.

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