Aunty has been a semi-regular on my annual Christmas CDs
HONOLULU-Genoa Keawe, the foremost female Hawaiian falsetto singer of the second half of the 20th century died this morning at her home in Papakolea, according to her family. She was 89.
Keawe had been in failing health for several weeks.Born Genoa Leilani Adolpho on Halloween, Oct. 31, 1918, she married Edward P. Keawe-Aiko in 1935. She performed as “Genoa Keawe” because her husband wasn’t sure at first that it was appropriate for his wife to be performing in bars and nightclubs, and she continued to use the shortened version of the name for the rest of her life.
Keawe made her first recordings for 49th State Hawaii Records in 1946. She subsequently recorded for Hula Records before she founded her own label, Genoa Keawe Records in the mid-1960s.
Keawe’s command of Hawaiian falsetto singing -- particularly her use of ha‘i (the technique of emphasizing the break between her upper and lower vocal registers) made her the inspiration for several generations of female falsetto singers. Her ability to simultaneously inhale and sing was the key to hold a single note seemingly forever when she sang “‘Alika,” the song that was known for decades as her musical signature.