Show and Tell Hawai'i

Is Kai Kalama Hawai'i's 'Idol' to worship?

January 21st, 2009

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?

4 Responses to “Is Kai Kalama Hawai'i's 'Idol' to worship?”

  1. NeedaHobby:

    Bring it Hawaiian! His name and Bruddah Iz intro sure had me intrigued 😉 He'll be vying for the sympathy girl vote w/ the guy who lost his wife (auditioned w/ Marvin Gaye's "I Heard it Through the Grapevine").


  2. Kayla Crismon:

    Kai Kalama is hapa. His father is Ron Kalama currently of Las Vegas. Kai also happens to be the great nephew of Alfred Apaka. His relation to Alfred is through his grandmother Aida Mae Kalama who is the sister to Alfred Apaka. The talent is not by chance, it runs in the family.

    He is also my first cousin.


  3. Shannon Galuszka:

    Kai grew up in Redlands, CA and currently resides in San Clemente, CA. I believe his roots go back to Moloka'i! He is from an amazingly talented family and has been performing all his life. During high school, he performed at the Maui Cultural Center on tour with the Redlands Theatre Festival in a production of the original musical, KU KANAKA. He has very close ties to Hawaii nei and embraces his culture through hula, traditional and modern island music and custom. I can't say enough about Kai and his family! I feel blessed to have grown up with them all...


  4. Bula Riley:

    Hey there is another Island gal in the top 36 of American Idol; her name is Taylor Vaifanua, also another hapa. Her father is Brian Vaifanua, who is a Samoan born and raised in CA but who's parents are Samoans from Hawaii.
    Taylor's mother is Caucasian but its her father's love of music and Polynesian heritage that gives her that knack for the music. Penned the Samoan Alicia Keys - another hapa, watch out for this beautiful Samoan gal to make it to the top 12....for sure!!! Congrats Kai and Taylor for representing the Polynesian community......Mahalo, B. Riley, Las Vegas


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