Genoa Keawe

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'Aunty' Genoa Keawe
Aunty Genoa Keawe 2005.jpg
Background information
Birth name Genoa Leilani Adolpho
Born October 31, 1918
Origin Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Died February 25, 2008(2008-02-25) (aged 89)
Genres Hawaiian Music
Easy Listening
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Ukulele, Vocals

AuntyGenoa Leilani Adolpho Keawe-Aiko (October 31, 1918 – February 25, 2008) was a Hawaiian musician. Aunty Genoa was born on the island of Oʻahu in the Kakaʻako district of Honolulu and grew up in Lā'ie.[1] She was an icon in Hawaiian music and a mainstay on the Hawaiian music scene for more than 60 years. With her tremendous voice she captivated audiences, kamaʻāina (locals) and malihini (visitors) alike. With a tremendous repertoire of traditional Hawaiian standards and Hapa Haole tunes, she was without equal. Many local artists include Aunty Genoa Keawe among their many influences.

In 2005, she received an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Humane Letters) from the University of Hawai‘i.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Genoa Leilani Adolpho's early years were full of moving about. She was born in 1918 in Kakaʻako in a stable. In her childhood her family moved about several occasions. Before she was ten years old she'd already lived on Kauaʻi for several years and had moved back to Kakaʻako. By the time she was about 10 years old, her family had moved to Laʻie.

This move to Laʻie would help facilitate the phenomenal music career that would highlight her life. Aunty Genoa always loved to sing ever since she was a little girl. In Laʻie she received her early musical training as a member of a local LDS Church choir. It was in choir that she built up her repertoire, knowledge and appreciation of music. She attended school until the 8th grade. She and her husband, the late Edward Puniwai Keawe-Aiko, whom she married in 1935, had twelve children.[1]

Keawe was a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[3]


She began performing music professionally prior to World War II at officers' clubs and at bandstand shows in Kailua. Eventually Aunty Genoa landed a radio show on KULA singing with John Kameaaloha Almeida. Much like most other musicians, Aunty Genoa could not make a living solely on music. She also made money in her early years as a lei seller and as a taxi driver.

Her long and illustrious musical career had taken her throughout the islands and around the world. She had played at luʻaus, lounges, bars, and on numerous radio and television shows.

Aunty Genoa had taken great pride in preserving "na mea Hawaiʻi". She learned to speak Hawaiian through her mother-in-law, who spoke Hawaiian as her first language, and became a fluent native-speaker (the term for someone who has learned Hawaiian from someone who speaks it as their first language instead of learning it in school). She arguably has perhaps the widest repertoire of traditional Hawaiian meles. Like many old-time Hawaiian singers and musicians she plays her music by ear.

She had been recording music professionally since 1946. Her original record label was with the 49th State Hawaii record company. She then went on to record with Hula Records. After a falling out with the company she founded her own record label, Genoa Keawe Records, to record her music and the music of her family and friends.

Along with the band, who had often been known as Aunty Genoa's Hawaiians, she helped to perpetuate Hawaiian music over the past 50 years. Though the members had changed over the years, the sound still remained the same, uniquely sweet and Hawaiian.

Her signature, sweet falsetto voice set the standard for the female Hawaiian falsettoists of today. Many of today's top entertainers count Aunty Genoa as one of their inspirations


Following years of health complications, Genoa Keawe, affectionately known as Aunty Genoa, died in the morning of February 25, 2008, at the age of 89.


  1. ^ a b c Lynn Cook (October–November 2007). "The High Life". Hana Hou! Vol. 10 No. 5. 
  2. ^ "Honorary degrees awarded to Keawe, Kashiwagi". Mālamalama, the magazine of the University of Hawaii system, Vol. 30 No. 3. September 2005. Legendary Hawaiian musician Genoa Keawe was honored during May commencement ceremonies at Windward Community College, where she shared her knowledge and expertise through the Hawai‘i Music Institute.  External link in |work= (help)
  3. ^ Deseret Morning News | LDS in Hawaii lose music icon, Aunty Genoa Leilani Keawe

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