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Ikaika Mendez of Maui wins falsetto contest

By Staff | Sep 26, 2019

Ikaika Mendez of Maui won the 18th annual Richard Ho’opi’i Leo Ki’eki’e Falsetto Contest at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua on Sept. 14. Kanoa Severson of Maui came in second, and Troy Hussey of Oahu finished third.

KAPALUA – The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua presented the 18th annual Richard Ho’opi’i Leo Ki’eki’e Falsetto Contest on Sept. 14.

The contest-turned-concert gathers male competitors – 18-plus years of age, who have not already released a solo album – to compete for the title of falsetto champion.

The ‘Olelo Award was presented by Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua Cultural Advisor Clifford Naeole and General Manager Andrew Rogers, who upgraded the winnings to a complementary two-night stay in a suite with breakfast for two, to contest winner Ikaika Mendez.

Mendez’s prizes also included the chance to record a single with Wailau Ryder, Kanilea Ukulele valued at $1,800, and an all-expenses-paid trip to perform with 2012 Champion Joshua Noeau Kalima at the eighth Na Hoa Makamaka Charity Concert in Kanagawa, Japan.

Kanoa Severson of Maui came in second. He won a wood award, $150 Kobe Japanese Steakhouse gift certificate and $400.

Troy Hussey of Oahu placed third. He took home a wood award, $100 Kobe Japanese Steakhouse gift certificate and $300 cash.

Iwalani Ho’omanawanui Apo and Joshua Noeau Kalima judged the music this year.

‘Olelo was judged by Kiope Raymond and Kuulei Alcomindras-Palakiko, and Cody Pueo Pata served as head judge.

The house band was comprised of Piilani Arias, Kanamon, Kason Gomes and Wailau Ryder.

The evening ended in the Alaloa Lobby Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, featuring the music of Kupu Dalire-Na’auao.

The son of Kumu Hula Kaui Dalire and father Sean Na’auao, Kupu, 21, is fresh off his debut solo album release, “Chasing Legacy.”

He was accompanied by Kaulike Pescaia, 2018 Richard Ho’opi’i Falsetto Champion.

Contest sponsors include the Hawaii Tourism Authority; County of Maui; Kanilea Ukulele; Maui Manjookies; Missing Polynesia; Kobe Japanese Steakhouse; KPOA 93.5 and Pacific Media Group; Goodfellow Brothers Inc.; Papa Ola Lokahi; Maui Health System; Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; Na Hoa Makamaka and Noeau Kalima, the 2012 champion; and Old Lahaina Luau

Festivals of Aloha, Maui Nui Style! is part of a 68-year tradition starting from Aloha Week and Aloha Festivals.

The 2019 Festivals of Aloha calendar of events celebrates over 25 events throughout Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Hana.

Composed by Kumu Hula Devin Kamealoha Forrest, the 2019 theme is: “E Ho’i Na Wai, E Ho’i ke Aloha i ke Ao.” (May the waters return, May the love for our world return.)

The festivities continue with the Lanai Ho’olaule’a on Sept. 28, at Dole Park from 2 to 8 p.m.

The event will feature exhibits, crafters, ‘ono food and wonderful entertainment.

A special late night Expeditions Ferry will return at 9:15 p.m. The ride is free with the purchase of a festival ribbon.

October 11 and 12 is Molokai’s turn to celebrate ALOHA! Don’t miss their Poke Contest and Ulu-Uala-Kalo Contest, showing off their ‘ono dishes and special off-island entertainment.

Go early, check out the booths, find your seating spot and enjoy the evening under the stars.

On Oct 12, a parade starts at 9 a.m. in Kaunakakai Town.

This one-of-a-kind parade will feature pa’u riders on horseback and country-style floats with exotic flowers.

A ho’olaule’a will follow the parade at the Mitchel Pauole Center.

October 19 is Hana’s celebration with a parade.

Hana’s Royal Court will open the parade, which will feature pa’u riders, floral floats, vintage cars, custom motorcycles and a marching band.

The celebration at Hana Ball Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will include the presentation of the coveted 2019 Tiny Malaikini Public Service Award, entertainment, Hawaiian crafts and many varieties of local dishes.

For more information on upcoming events, visit festivalsofaloha.com.