Gabby Pahinui was a key figure in the development of Kalapana music, hosting impromptu sessions in her backyard in Waimanalo, O'ahu. Musicians such as Leland “Atta” Isaacs, Sonny Chillingworth, Ray Kane and Peter Moon would gather to play music with “The Master”. As Gabby's fame grew, so did the crowd of musicians and fans in her backyard. She often made a fashion statement wearing clothes like a black hat adorned with pins and a feather, a leather jacket with long fringes, a colorful embroidered shirt, an ivory pendant, shiny pendants and black nail polish.
Makana was another influential figure in the development of Kalapana music. He began learning the art of the Slack Key guitar at age eleven and quickly earned a reputation as the youngest virtuoso of the Slack key. He was a protégé of Bobby Moderow, Jr. and his eponymous debut perfectly reflected island life in the 1970s. The Sunday Manoa's groundbreaking 1969 album, Guava Jam, was an important milestone for Kalapana music.
Peter Moon said that it “breathed new life into the music of the past” and enhanced it with today's influences. While many young musicians sang strategically in the Hawaiian language as a way to reestablish their cultural importance, not all of them spoke Hawaiian. Artists such as Cecilio & Kapono, Country Comfort, Olomana, Kalapana and the Beamer Brothers wrote local music inspired by folk and suitable for radio. Many of the songs addressed serious problems of the time but they expressed them in English. From radio to live performances to festivals, Hawaiian music was everywhere.
As Cecilio & Kapono said in their song of the same name, a party for life was just beginning. Kalapana combined the pure and moving vocals of Malani Bilyeu and Mackey Feary with the versatility of the musicians D, J.The first hotel in Waikīkī hosted the radio program “Hawai'i Calls” and its Banyan Court hosted Polynesian productions, special events and concerts. Traditional Hawaiian music became prominent throughout Waikīkī and as music evolved on the continent, influences from folk, rock, pop, jazz, alternative music, big bands and reggae were heard. In recent years, Waikīkī Beach Walk has hosted a series of performances called “Nā Mele No Nā Pua” with artists such as Kawika Kahiapo, Mark Yamanaka, Natalie Ai Kamauu, Blayne Aing, Ho'okena, Del Beazley, Maunalua and Mailani. The best-known place in this large outdoor mall was Duke Kahanamoku where Don Ho became Hawaii's biggest star.
One of the most recent features of the major renovation of the International Market Place is a statue of Don Ho. Other recording artists who performed regularly at the complex prior to its renovation were Society of Seven, The Aliis, Iva Kinimaka, The Surfers, Makana and Melveen Leed. The Monarch Room continues to host occasional performances (including a series with Makana, Cecilio & Kapono and Maunalua) and is the most sought after room for benefit galas in Hawaii. Kalapana remains an inspiration for contemporary Hawaiian music and musicians today. From its humble beginnings in Gabby Pahinui's backyard to its current status as an iconic symbol of Hawaiian culture, Kalapana has come a long way thanks to radio. Radio has been instrumental in shaping Kalapana music over time. From Gabby Pahinui's backyard sessions to Makana's virtuoso performances to The Sunday Manoa's Guava Jam album to Waikīkī Beach Walk's Nā Mele No Nā Pua series to Don Ho's iconic status at Duke Kahanamoku's Monarch Room - radio has been there every step of the way. Kalapana has been able to reach audiences around the world thanks to radio broadcasts that have showcased its unique sound.
Radio has also helped spread awareness about Hawaiian culture by featuring traditional songs sung in Hawaiian language as well as contemporary songs that address serious issues but are expressed in English. Radio has been an integral part of Kalapana's journey from its humble beginnings to its current status as an iconic symbol of Hawaiian culture. It has helped spread awareness about Hawaiian culture around the world while also providing a platform for contemporary musicians to showcase their talents.