Serenaders Perform at Richard Hoopii Celebration of Life

The Hawaiian Serenaders performed at the Richard Hoopi’i Celebration of Life on March 24.

We were surprised to see our picture in the Sunday, March 25 newspaper showing our performance on stage for Hawaiian music legend Richard Hoopi’i’s Celebration of Life held on Saturday, March 24 at the Maui Memorial Gymnasium in Wailuku. We sang “I’ll Remember You” written by Kui Lee and after our performance the MC Alaka’i said it was very appropriate. We were honored just to be able to play and thrilled to have our picture in the newspaper from all the entertainers that performed during the non-stop lineup for 6-hours. Hundreds of people attended to pay respects to the Hoopi’i family. Matt Thayer of The Maui News was the photographer.

Richard Hoopi’i was a master falsetto singer and ukulele player known for his voice, big smile, and generous spirit. He died March 3 at home in Kahakuloa, He was 76.  In 1996, Richard and his brother Solomon Hoopii were named National Heritage Fellows by the National Endowment for the Humanities. My husband and I were fortunate to see the Hoopi’i brothers receive their award at Lisner Auditorium in Washington D.C. Solomon died in 2006 and we also attended his service in Maui (we moved from Maryland to Maui in 2000).

Maui Uke Fest 2011

Mele danced hula as the two Rich’s performed at the Maui Ukulele Festival in October 2011

In October 2011, the two Rich’s (my Rich and Uncle Richard Hoopi’i) performed on stage during the Maui Ukulele Festival at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. What an honor for Rich to back-up Uncle Richard on his ukulele-bass. When Uncle Richard started singing the song Puamana, I couldn’t stand it and jumped up on stage to dance the hula to their music. We have fond memories of playing music and talking story with Uncle Richard and his wife Ululani. When the Hoopi’i’s invited us to their grandson’s 1-year baby luau, we felt privileged to be included as part of their ohana (family).

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele