Mokihana Makes It Happen
Groove to the tunes of the ’50s when The Mokihana Club hosts its annual fundraising dinner April 15 to benefit Kaua‘i’s next generation of musicians.
The Mokihana Club will celebrate the 1950s tunes of Frank Sinatra, Pat Boone, Peggy Lee and much more at 4 p.m. April 15 at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Līhu‘e. The concert, titled “Crooners & Divas of the ’50s,” will support the organization’s music scholarship fund.
“Anytime we can financially help kids to pursue a career in music, I am in,” says musical director Dolly Kanekuni.
Some of the most accomplished local adult singers will be performing, including Arnold Meister, Thom Newman, Peggy Lake, Kanekuni, Erin Gaines, Kai Ohai and Alan Van Zee, who is also accompanying the singers on piano. They will be joined by some of Kaua‘i’s talented youth singers, including Chloe Rudinoff, Sabryn Rudinoff, Jeremiah Garcia, Jenny Nezbeda, Emma Badua and Savannah Hubbard.
“Our older audiences reliving the memories of when these songs were their school days’ playlist and our younger audience members (as well as the singers) discovering and loving ‘new’ music by the brilliant writers of that era,” adds Kanekuni.
This year, the club is veering away from its standard classical music presentation and this year will have keiki singing the tunes of yesteryear.
“They (the kids) are as adorable and as innocent as the most popular songs were,” says Kanekuni. How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? was No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1953, and the teens singing have appeared in theatrical roles here with grace and talent beyond their years.”
Helena Cooney, volunteer extraordinaire and The Mokihana Club president, serves as chairwoman for the spring concert this year. The concert theme stems from her love of Pat Boone, and to be able to present something that features the entertainer’s music for a good cause is right up Cooney’s alley. In fact, providing opportunities for students is something the more than 100 voluntary members of the women’s service club hold near and dear to their hearts.
The Mokihana Club is known for its generous efforts in making the island a better place through action, such as raising money to provide scholarships for students, particularly those who are interested in pursuing a musical education. Music has been an area of focus for the group for many decades, and members were instrumental in bringing Honolulu Symphony Orchestra to the island beginning in the 1950s so the public could appreciate classical melodies. By the 1970s, they shifted that focus toward offering scholarships for the island’s musically inclined keiki.
Each year, the club hosts a musical competition, where monetary awards are gifted for the best performances by college-bound seniors who plan to study music or take private lessons. In 2017, $5,000 went to local music students.
The club’s original founders, however, were not so focused on melodic tunes. They were public-health advocates instrumental in bringing dental care to school children and general health care to the growing population. This foundation serves as another one of the club’s primary goals, which is working with Kaua‘i Community College and its nursing program. The women of the club choose students who have applied for financial aid and, based upon their grade-point average and need, provide them monetary relief. Last year, $20,000 was awarded to KCC students.
Being part of a group, or “sisterhood,” that’s devoted to social and cultural development on Kaua‘i is the reason Cooney chose to volunteer her time with the organization. It’s also why she decided to take the musical fundraiser event to the next level this year. She hopes the efforts will raise even more funds for Kaua‘i’s next generation.