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Community loses Albert Napahi Dizon III

By Staff | May 28, 2009

LAHAINA — Behind the island resorts and shopping facades, there is another side of West Maui the world rarely sees.

“Sit back I’ll tell you a story… where we were born and raised… show our thanks and praise… on the island of Maui… a very hopeful place… for this Hawaiian race… Olowalu to Napili… we know your family… from the mountain to the sea…. Kanaha, Kahoma and Kaua‘ula…. it’s our destiny to set the waters free.”

Lahaina Grown songwriter and musician, 33-year-old Albert Napahi Dizon III, died May 16, and the words he has written and the music he has made and recorded during his short life span are a legacy to the family he leaves behind.

“We will miss Albert’s soulful voice. His music came from the heart, reflecting the spirit of Lahaina at a time of change,” community leader Jerry Kunitomo commented.

Lahaina Grown lead guitarist Deason Baybayan said, “The writing that Albert did — he wrote some really good songs. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t hear more. It was a shock to everybody in Lahaina; he went before his time.”

Born Oct. 1, 1975, Dizon grew up in the hills overlooking the town he dearly loved.

His family tree is deeply rooted in Kaua‘ula, and music was in his blood.

Albert’s mother and father are Yolanda (Biga) Dizon and Albert-Dall Napahi Dizon.

“Ka‘ahanui is my mother-in-law’s side of the family. My mother’s side is Mahelona. Both mothers are from the (Kaua‘ula) valley,” Yolanda explained.

Fellow Lahaina Grown talent Kapali Keahi is also a member of Dizon’s extended ‘ohana.

“He was my sidekick, or I was his sidekick; we were really close. Like I said, we cousins; our family was always together. We grew up in one musical family,” Keahi acknowledged.

Dizon’s grandmother (Anna Dizon) is Keahi’s mother’s (Primrose Keahi) sister.

“His grandmother (Anna Dizon) plays music. His grandfather (Albert) plays music. They used to play music with my dad (Uncle Moon Keahi)” at the Tea House of the Maui Moon.

“His grandma was actually the leader of the ten o’clock mass choir over at Maria Lanakila,” Keahi added.

Dizon (III) graduated from Lahainaluna in 1993.

“Pretty much me and Albert were the original members of the group. We started Lahaina Grown in 1994, ’95, in my back yard up Lahainaluna Road,” Baybayan recalled.

Other band members through the years included Jayson Cabanilla, Lloyd Cabanilla and Stacy Panlasigui.

“‘Lahaina Grown’ was our theme song. That was the first song that came off the album that hit the radio stations here in Hawaii, and the song took off. They are still playing the song all over the state. The album sold over 20,000 at least,” Baybayan said.

“I think Albert, when he wrote that song,” Baybayan continued, “his message was about the people… the family unit that we grew up with. His family, my family, Kapali’s family and Jayson’s family — they’re all rooted here in Lahaina, so obviously the ‘ohana was definitely a big part of us being together. We were friends before we were Lahaina Grown.  We paddle canoe, we surf, boogie board, play baseball — we did all kine of activities together before music came in… I think that is what that song is about and obviously the issues of land here in Lahaina… the Hawaiians.”

“The song, ‘Lahaina Grown,’ was his baby, and it tells so much about who he was,” Yolanda Dizon added.

Services will be held on June 5 at Waiola Church at 5 p.m.

On June 6, Albert Napahi Dizon III will be interred next to his kupuna at the Kaua‘ula Cemetery.

“He wants to come home,” his mother said.