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Born Carole Shimizu in Honolulu, she graduated from McKinley High School in Honolulu. She began performing shortly after she graduated; she also recorded for several local record labels. Her first album, "All at once..." (Kanaka KM-1002), was produced by island record industry veteran George J.D. Chun. At that time she was billed as "Carol Kai."
In the late 1970s, when she was already well known as a Hawaii showroom headliner, her manager, Yemun Chung, paired her with a young island show band he was also managing, The Fabulous Krush (later known simply as "The Krush"). Kai was not a member of the group; they performed as her backing band as well as doing their own shows.
In the late 1990s, following the national success of shows featuring two or more "divas", she joined three other local singers with showroom experience — Loyal Garner, Melveen Leed, and Nohelani "Baby Diva" Cypriano — to form a new show group named The Local Divas. The group made several recordings but broke up after Garner's death several years later.
Kai was the organizer and namesake of the first bed race in Hawaii, the Carole Kai Bed Race (later the Honolulu International Bed Race).
It became an annual event benefiting the Variety Schools, a local school for children with special needs. Later, in 1985, after ending her affiliation with the bed race, she partnered with local cardiologist Jack Scaff to organize a road race between Aloha Tower in downtown Honolulu and Aloha Stadium. This race became the Great Aloha Run, and is now one of the largest road races in Hawaii, perhaps second to the Honolulu Marathon, attracting about 20,000 runners annually.
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- "Carole Kai : Biography". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
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- Berger, John (November 27, 2001). "Loyal Divas". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Archived from the original on July 28, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- Jeffrey, Don (May 6, 1995). "Retail Chains Link with Hawaii". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 107 (18). ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- McGarry, Jo (September 7, 2007). "Carole Kai". Midweek. Archived from the original on July 28, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- Cisco, Dan (1999). Hawaiʻi sports: history, facts, and statistics. University of Hawaii Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-8248-2121-0. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
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