Alfred Apaka - Waikiki Icon
If you were born before 1950 you probably heard his name and his voice no matter where you grew up. He was that popular to mainstream American audiences and his romantic baritone voice still resonates throughout the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Tapa Room. The showroom where legendary Waikiki entertainer Alfred Aholo Apaka captivated thousands of visitors with his golden voice. This was an era our parents and grandparents knew. This was the wild and romantic Waikiki of the 1940’s - 1950’s.
This man, arguably the foremost interpreter of hapa-haole music, is remembered once again, over fifty years later this coming March 19, on what would have been his 90th birthday. A kanikapila-style ceremony will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Hilton Hawaiian's Tapa Room. Public is welcome. Some of the entertainers who will pay tribute are Nina Kealiiwahamana, Danny Kaleikini, Melveen Leed, Boyce Rodrigues, Bev Noa, Gary Aiko, Joe Recca, Aason Mahi, Scott Furushima and others. A rare treat.
Alfred Apaka serenaded visitors at the Moana Hotel and later at Don the Beachcomber’s where television personality Bob Hope discovered him. His pure talent and charisma soon gained national recognition with appearances on Ed Sullivan’s prestigious Talk of the Town and The Dinah Shore Show. But he was best known for his lavish shows at the Tapa Showroom. His performances drew hundreds of listeners who wanted to satiate their musical cravings with unique and consistent stylings like no other. Some say he helped create a Las Vegas style in Waikiki – big shows that topped visitors’ island experiences. Others consider him as great a singer as Bing Crosby. Still others say that he was the greatest male vocalist -- ever.
Today a life-size bronze statue, dedicated to him on his 78th birthday, stands at the Hilton in honor of Hawaii's most popular singer in the last half- century.
Born into a musical family (and Hawaiian royalty) Apaka became a well-known recording artist who created a global appreciation for Hawaiian music. He sang with various orchestras including Don McDiarmid's Royal Hawaiian Hotel house band and Ray Kinney's troupe in New York.
Then in 1960 Apaka unexpectedly died from a heart attack when he was only 40 years old. While Hawai‘i may have said farewell to this "golden voice" of the islands, many agree that Alfred Apaka's presence still rings melodiously throughout the world. Aloha Alfred Apaka. Mahalo for all the Aloha you left many generations.
Thank you to Jeff Apaka for some wonderful family photos. For more please visit the Entertainment Channel at http://entertainment.pacificnetwork.tv/WaikikiIntheWakeofDreams/ or contact Media@PacificNetwork.tv for the film Waikiki in the Wake of Dreams.