Only in the islands will you find such an overwhelming spirit of Aloha. It was a feeling that flowed throughout a quaint Chinatown club this weekend, as dozens gathered for a much-anticipated show. My sister and I were among the other “Kinerds” who came to watch YouTube sensation Kina Grannis perform for the first time in Hawaii. Little did we know, the 26-year-old from California had many connections to the islands.

It was standing-room only at singer Kina Grannis’ first Hawaii performance.

Making jokes about Hawaii’s apparent humidity, Kina brought a refreshing humor and a radiating smile to the packed venue. A few technical difficulties occurred when Kina realized she forgot her capo in L.A. and after her tuner broke. That’s when her fans stepped in to help – offering their own capos and even guitars. One person jokingly shouted, “I’ll hold a fret for you!”

The concert continued with much success, as Kina performed original songs and explained how special Hawaii has always been for her. Kina’s mother was born and raised in Wahiawa (near the North Shore of Oahu), and although Kina was born in California, she feels that a part of her belongs to the islands whenever she visits this “Melting Pot of the Pacific.” Being of half Japanese and European descent, Kina joked that she could easily pass as a Hawaii local.VIDEO: Kina’s known for her heartfelt lyrics and a smile that lights up any room when performing.

Another connection Kina has to Hawaii is through her ukulele, which is also how she remembers her late grandfather. Because he passed away when she was two years old, she cherished the classic Kamaka ukulele he once played. Unfortunately, someone stole the uke on her first tour, but thanks to her supportive team, an exact replica was found to fill the void in her heart. Kina had always “messed around” with the uke when she was younger and watched her mother play a few songs, too. But it wasn’t till two years ago when she really got serious with the uke. Today, she continues to share its unique sounds with her fans worldwide and on the web.

As a child, Kina would always travel to Hawaii with her family. They hiked, snorkeled and lounged on the beach; she even tried surfing. This time around, however, it was about the food. She revealed what she had been eating almost everyday: poke, a local favorite found all over the islands.Kina joked that it was nice to see her fans in person, since the start of her music career had been all through the web.

In the true kanikapila fashion (impromptu jam session), Kina performed her hit song,“Message From Your Heart,” unplugged and invited the crowd to sing along. Of course, she got the hana hou (encore) and performed a few more numbers. After the show, fans met the YouTube star during a meet-and-greet, where they showered her with gifts and fresh flowered lei.

“I thought it was awesome to receive leis that were specifically meant for me,” she said with an overwhelming sense of appreciation. To her, the lei not only serve as a sign of aloha but as a way to remember her fans across the Pacific.


Photo Credit (second): Keane Santos


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