Is Kai Kalama Hawai'i's 'Idol' to worship?
From an Island perspective, an “American Idol” contestant named Kai Kalama, 26, may be the one to watch and root for this year.
His name is Hawaiian, his look is Jawaiian, he’s got sweetness and tenderness with an edge. And the background melody featured on his “AI” bio was definitely local— Bruddah Iz’s melodics from “Over the Rainbow” — capped with bittersweet flavors: Kai wants to sing and win to provide a home for his seizure-inclined mom, even avoiding girlfriends to focus on mom’s well-being.
It’s all fodder for support and attention, shared on “AI” on Tuesday night.
Turns out Kai Kalama is from San Clemente, has made a pretty good impression among the panel of four judges (Simon Cowell, with lesser enthusiasm), in the initial stages of the 2009 competish now under way.
Kalama sang The Platters’ “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” — the final one to compete and the one who boasts the most promise — and earned passage to Hollywood from “AI’s” panel of four judges. And maybe some tears in some eyes, too, what with his hardship-at-home story.
He auditioned in San Francisco. He’s known in his home port as a club singer, at such sites as OC Tavern, Molly Bloom’s and BeachFire, performing with his band, Off White, according to the Orange County Register.
He looks very much hapa — like a dude from Hawai‘i — and indeed could have Island ties, though his roots and lineage did not surface in his interview and chat with the judges.
Debbie Ward, who lives here, e-mailed me and pondered about Kalama’s origins, thinking that this could be our Jasmine Trias. In other words, the candidate of choice for mass support this season.
“Can you find out more and write about Kai Kalama, one of the American Idol contestants? He tried out in San Francisco and is going to Hollywood. He's from a large Hawaiian family in the Bay Area, is a musician/singer (used to be in a band called Off White) and sure looks like a local boy,” said Debbie. “ I think lots of us Hawaii fans of American Idol are going to want to find out more about him and support his talent.”
The folks at Fox’s “American Idol” do not allow access to contestants, once the competition begins, and bios at this early start of the race aren’t posted.
But Kai is on the radar of new judge Kara DioGuardi, who dismissed Cowell’s barbs, with beaucoup praise for the youthful trouper, and garnered unanimous yeas from Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.
One viewer said on www.americanidol.com (where video can be seen): “Kai Kamala not only has an amazing voice ... plus he's got a big heart, the way he spends his days caring for his sick mom.”
At this stage, he’s certainly is a contender.And a good bet for Islanders, if no other local wannabe shows up.
What's your take?