Alfred Apaka - Waikiki Icon

March 18th, 2010

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 or contact for the film Waikiki in the Wake of Dreams.

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3 Responses to “Alfred Apaka - Waikiki Icon”

  1. Moke Young:

    Aloha Poalima!

    I've read so much about Alfred Apaka & his past while enhanced through experiencing the sounds of musicians inspired by his Aloha, such as my uncle Ty's crew from Kona, Hi. that included the late Cyrus Green, my uncle's John Auna, George Kainapau, Donna Kuali'i & other fine entertainers who were great advocates & inspired many thereafter!

    Alfred Apaka & folks like Ray Kinney & Kui Lee paved the way for so many & without their hardwork & efforts it would not be the same.

    Today we still enjoy the bounty of their past works & in my case it's his Aloha that touched many mainlander's indirectly that has been reflected back upon myself & other expats completing the circle connecting the dots and making for a rewarding lifestyle.

    I find it important & love to take that energy sometimes, magnify it & channel it back into the general public with each opportunity.

    It's amazing too how things can magically unfold & my best of friends grandmother, the late Mildred Cuomo of NY, wrote the tune "Beautiful Hawai'i" with Lani McIntyre & performed Hawaiian music here in NYC too. Her grandson, Mike Avallone, a New Yorker, dedicates his time each summer raising monies for Autism with other Hawaiian's such as Darrick Doerner, Gerry Lopez, Garrett McNamara & Izzy Paskowitz.

    I wrote about Hawaiian music for the past week inspired by the presence of "Hapa" touring in the northeast & the nation while seeing how far this ancient artform has traveled & matured since the glory days of the Lexington Hotel & tomorrow, in one of the finest cities in the world:

    "The master of prayer or "Pule" in Hawaiian, will be through the peaceful soul of Charles Ka'upu Jr. a well known Hula Dance Master or "Kumu Hula" & Chanter whose words & vibrant spirit will clutch you like never before forcing you into an upright & "at attention" posture with a glaring stare of attentiveness while you immediately become captivated & your soul imprisoned for that magical moment!

    Charles Ka'upu's communication & masterful storytelling abilities coupled with his whitty sense of humor is a facsinating experience."

    If you could hear Charles Ka'upu or the late Edith Kanakaole channeling energy in the finest of venues the world has to offer, it clearly illustrates the path created by Apaka & others going full circle long ago & viral atop many new pathways!

    Entertainer's are in the best position to rekindle the Aloha Spirit during its steep decline & the timing could not have been any better hoping that those with the aloha, knowledge, talent & resources can find a way to generate the energy needed to go out and cheer up the souls of others within their communities with no attachments nor expectations.

    I was at a loss of breath when I heard this week that John Cruz will be performing with 17 year old phenom & fast rising Indie Folk & Pop artist Sage Redman because it's a profound example of Aloha lending a hand helping others to get where they need to be. Now young Sage may become a Hawaiian music supporter & play a few tunes during her career!

    Last year John Cruz was given that same kind of Aloha through my pal Jimmy Buffett raising his spirits & acting as a mentor that is a rare gift.

    Don Hon inspired Jimmy Buffett in the past & helped him along too.

    Many of our great Hawaiian artists have asked the younger folks to take care of our youth knowing how important it is to cultural preservation no matter what color, race or creed.

    Hawaiian music is strong.

    It's alive & fluorishing like never before healing many during the coming weeks & months during a time in history when it matters most!

    "Music is the language of the soul.....

    Art is the media through which the soul speaks!"

    When it's delivered by the Aloha practicioner or warm soul, the impact can be enormous.

    If a simple hello or Aloha by Aunite Genoa Keawe could have so much impact uplifting another soul, imagine what a greeting of charismatic Hawaiian entertainment & charm is capable of?

    You should know too that a Hawaiian is in charge of Carnegie Hall; Kimo Gerald of Hilo adding madness to the coincidental nature of good fortune sometimes generated through special beginning's as is the case when Hawaiian music took its game on the road bringing here to NYC.

    Life in the eyes of many islanders would have never, ever been possible without the works of folks like Alfred Apaka whom I admired as a youngster through my uncles.

    Mahalo's for your time reading my note.!/event.php?eid=397214850626&index=1

    I salute Alfred Apaka today; mahalo's Unlce!

    With Aloha,

    Moke Young

  2. Audrey:

    Hi, excelent, this is good stuff, keep up the good work.Bye Bye

  3. elee:

    Hi Piter, visit Not a hobby. We're an on line on line TV network from Hawaii.