There are some in every generation, and we've written about many of them over the years.
They are the young musicians, singers, songwriters, recording artists, dancers, chanters, performers, who seem to stand out above all the rest.
As time goes by, some of them go on to become famous, a few wealthy. Some become the stars of their chosen genre, others quietly slip into the ranks of the many great artists in a community that seems to have more talented people than any other place in the world.
You may remember many of those from years past. Here are but a few:
Remember Little Anthony, a child prodigy who was under the tutelage of Melveen Leed. He went on to become Tony C., a star in his own right - chanting, singing, dancing, composing, and more.
How about Bobby Moderow, who impressed so many of us as a teen, specializing in slack-key guitar. All who heard him predicted greatness. Now, he is the much sought after falsettist and slack-key guitarist, leader of Maunalua, a popular Hawaiian music trio.
Or Israel Kamakawiwo`ole. We first heard (and wrote about) him when he was 16 or 17, the youngest member of the unknown Makaha Sons of Ni`ihau, and recognized that he had something special - in the timbre of his voice. The voice of the late Bruddah Iz, singing "Wonderful World" and "Over The Rainbow," is now one of the most recognizable ever to come out of Hawai`i.
Some members of the Waimanalo Keikis have become well known as musicians and singers, among them `Analu `Aina, who has performed with some of the best, and is most often seen now as the bassman with Mike Ka`awa.
It doesn't seem too many years ago that we were watching young `ukulele artists Herb Ohta Jr. and David Kamakahi - both sons of famous musicians - as teens. Now they are among the best in the business and yes, you can hear them perform at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. Both fathers, Ohta-san and Dennis Kamakahi, respectively, were called genius in their young years too, and have become even more famous as adult composers, perforrmers and recording artists.
Composer Dennis Kamakahi, who was honored last month by the State Foundation on Culture & The Arts, with his son, David - two of Hawai`i's best musicians, and songwriters. - Kamakahi Productions Photo
How well we remember Na Leo Pilimehana from their days at Kamehameha Schools - a quarter century ago. Now they are one of the most popular groups in the Islands and are taking their special brand of music to the world.
Na Leo Pilimehana, when they were still students at The Kamehameha Schools. - NLP Photo
And Jake Shimabukuro, who was the kinetic `ukulele whiz in the trio called Pure Heart. Now, he is one of the best known Hawai`i-born musicians of all time (and one of the best), taking his place alongside Sol Ho`opi`i, Eddie Kamae, Ohta-san, and Led Ka`apana.. In fact, his name is already better known than almost anyone from Hawai`i, right up there with Kamehameha Nui, Duke Kahanamoku, and Don Ho. Jake doesn't even need to use his family name... Just say "Jake" and everyone knows about whom you are speaking.
These are but a few.... there are dozens of these talented youngsters just in the past couple of generations. And, of course, many more still living from older generations. It is just more difficult to think of them as young artists when they have been at the top of their chosen field for so many years... entertainers like Genoa Keawe, Nina Keali`iwahamana, Elaine Ako Spencer, Mihana, Marlene Sai, who all started out very young and very successfully.
Today's bright young stars seem to get more attention. Maybe it is because they are even better than their predecessors, or maybe because our world is "shrinking." But, unless they opt out of their current profession, you can almost rest assured that you'll be hearing and hearing about them for many decades to come.
Here are a few that you should listen to and watch.
Brittni Paiva, 18, from the Big Island. She is releasing her 3rd solo CD this month and is already regarded by most as one of the most talented `ukulele artists and slack-key guitarists in the Islands.
Brittni Paiva, at home playing guitar or `ukulele, piano, bass, drums, or whatever. She's also a songwriter. - Photo by Keith Haugen
Taimane Gardner, a teenage genius of the `ukulele, with a stage personality to match. - Gardner file photo
Taimane Gardner, 17, of O`ahu. This bright and talented performer is also a recording artists and a featured performer in the Don Ho Show in Waikiki, a spot she earned.
Danny Carvalho, 16, also from O`ahu. He's a slack-key guitar whiz who will have a lot to say about his own future.
Mahela, the young daughter of singing sensation Marlene Sai, who also started as a teenage singer - at Honey's in Kane`ohe, when she was too young to legally perform in a bar.
And who knows, some of the young members of the Keiki Palaka Band from Enchanted Lake may someday join the ranks of the many great musicians who call Hawai`i home.
Recently, we watched five other very talented youngsters who may not get the attention they richly deserve at this time, but who are truly outstanding, and for whom "prodigy" seems to fit. Someday, everyone in town may know their names.
One is 10-year-old Evan Lin of Momilani Elementary School, who wowed a concert audience with his brilliance and manual dexterity, playing Berceuse in Eb, Opus 57, and Etude in Gb "Black Key" Opus 10, No. 5, both by Chopin. We've never heard them better performed - by artists of any age.
The other young stars are Michelle Morimoto of Honolulu, who is home schooled; Sandra Tang, of Moanalua High, Blaise Tom of St. Louis High, and Casey Kawahara of Pearl City High. Michelle, Sandra, and Blaise all play piano too. Casey is a percussionist.
Like Brittni, Taimane, and others we have mentioned earlier, these youngsters play music that is readily accepted all over the world -- even where Hawaiian music might be a totally foreign experience. They performed compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Dvorak, MacDowell, and others.
A year ago, we heard all five of them in a Rita Thompson Music Scholarship Concert at Kilohana United Methodist Church, and were very impressed. In the October 2006 concert, they shared the honors with guest artists Iggy Jang, Honolulu Symphony violinist and concertmaster; and Thomas Rosenkranz, assistant professor of piano, UH-Manoa Music Department, two of the finest musicians in Hawai`i nei.
And they held their own, effortless performing difficult classical compositions.
Here's a picture of these talented young musicians with Oceanic-Time Warner columnist Keith Haugen, and retired Kilohana organist Rita Thompson, for whom the scholarship is named. Left to right, they are Michelle Morimoto, Evan Lin, Sandra Tang, Keith Haugen, Casey Kawahara, Blaise Tom, Rita Thompson. The five youngsters shared the stage in the 2005 concert with Keith, who performed an hour and a half of original compositions to help raise money for the scholarship fund.
Watch for them.
These are but a few of the up and coming young performers in Hawai`i today. We'll bet you can name many more. Tell us about them. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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