Maui Arts & Entertainment

Grant Kono Wins 13th Hoʻopiʻi Falsetto Contest

September 29, 2014, 11:45 AM HST
* Updated October 6, 6:09 AM
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Grant Kono. Photo courtesy Daryl Fujiwara.

Grant Kono. Photo courtesy Daryl Fujiwara.

By Wendy Osher

An Oʻahu man sang his way to victory on Maui at the 13th Anniversary of the Richard Hoʻopiʻi Leo Kiʻe Kiʻe Falsetto contest, held on Saturday, Sept. 27, at the Andaz Maui Wailea resort.

Grand prize winner, Grant Kono was among seven contestants from across the state that participated in the showcase of Hawaiian music tradition.

His rendition of “Kimo Hula” earned him the grand prize award as well as the award for Hawaiian language, said event organizer Daryl Fujiwara.

The contest traditionally uses criteria that includes pronunciation, enunciation, phrasing, and completion of thought, technique and usage of specific Hawaiian idioms of Hawaiian falsetto.


Kono received a two-night stay at the Andaz Maui at Wailea for winning the language award. He also takes home a $600 cash grand prize, a wood bowl award, a Hoʻāmana jewelry piece, a pair of Maui Jim Sunglasses, and a round trip island-hopper pass on Mokulele Airlines, contest organizers said.


According to Fujiwara, Kono’s win comes on the heels of the prestigious Hawaiʻi Music Hall of Fame’s Ka Hīmeni Ana contest.

Kono and his family entered and won the contest, in which participants are limited to their pure voices, and are not allowed to use any amplification, said Fujiwara.

The Richard Hoʻopiʻi Leo Kiʻe Kiʻe Falsetto contest, now in it’s 13th year, showcases amateur male falsetto singers who perform in a high-register, an art form dating back to a time when Hawaiian women were forbidden to sing publicly.


The event was part of this year’s Festivals of Aloha event—a multi-island celebration that pays tribute to Hawaiian culture and the people of Maui.

13th Richard Ho'opi'i Leo Ki'eki'e Falsetto Contest. Photo courtesy Daryl Fujiwara.

13th Richard Ho’opi’i Leo Ki’eki’e Falsetto Contest. Photo courtesy Daryl Fujiwara.

Contest organizers say other winning contestants this year included:

  • 2nd Place: Sean Olanui Robbins of Kona on Hawai’i Island who sang an original composition; and
  • 3rd Place: James Kahikina Maikalani Maxwell Juan of Maui who sang Ni’ihau.

The complete list of 2014 contestants also included: Ian Aquino of Maui; James Koakane Mattos of Maui; Nathan Evans of Hawai’i Island; and Walter Kalani Librando-Souza of Maui.

The judge panel this year included: Kiope Raymond, Iwalani Hoʻomanawanui Apo, Kuʻulei Alcomindes-Palakiko, Kalani Peʻa, and Kamaka Kukona.

The event was made possible in part through: Tri-Isle RC&D Council, Inc., the County of Maui, The Andaz Maui at Wailea, Mokulele Airlines, Hula Rock, Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Hoʻāmana Designs, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Mana Kai Maui, Hilo Hattie Lahaina, Enterprise Car Rental, Connec, LLC and Smythe Fujiwara Design.

A list of additional festivities are being held through the month of October in celebration of the Festivals of Aloha.

Sharing the unique island traditions of Maui, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi with visitors and kamaʻāina alike, the events include parades, street parties, concerts and family activities, as well as special festivities in Hāna.   A complete list of 2014 activities and events is available at the following LINK.

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