Current Front Liners

ROSE BAKER

roseA student of hula with Patrick Makuakāne Hālau Hula Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu of San Francisco, Rose Acolentava Baker was born in Davao City in the Philippines.  Her family moved to San Francisco where she graduated from Mission High School.  Currently, a vocal student with George Hernandez, Rose is employed as a legal assistant.

 

 

 

RANDEE CHIN 

randee chinProud of being a native Californian, Randee was born and raised in Sacramento. Growing up, her musical experience included tap. ballet, lyrical, and ballroom dancing, piano, classical guitar and as a member of the aʻcapella choir in school and church and a member of the Cupertino Choraliers, Currently, she is a member of Kau’i Isa Kahaku’s hālau hula Nā Wai ‘Ola, and studies rhythm tap dancing with Gayle Greenbrook. Her interest in playing Hawaiian music started when she enrolled in the Kapalakiko system of learning the Hawaiian ‘ukulele which led to her apprenticeship with the Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band.  She and her husband Henry live in San Jose and have two sons: Brian and Stephen.  Randee is the person responsible for our Kapalakiko website.

TERESA COOPER

teresa cooper

Teresa Peffley Cooper was born and raised in Norwich, New York.  Interested in music at an early age she studied piano for eight years and played the clarinet in the school band. A graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, this former food scientist is married to fellow KHB apprentice, Lee Cooper. Inspired by her mother-in-law during a Hawai‘i trip in 2004, Teresa picked up the ‘ukulele and shortly thereafter enrolled in the Kapalakiko ‘ukulele classes and Hawaiian music workshop. As time permits, she continues to study voice with Mary Argenti at San Francisco City College.  Teresa and Lee have 2 children.

LILLIAN FUJIMOTO

lillian fujimoto

Lillian Fujimoto was born at Kailua Oʻahu and grew up at Waimānalo where her parents raised watermelons She graduated from Belmont High and UCLA in Los Angeles. Her musical experiences include hula, piano, tap dancing ʻukulele playing, she was an interim church choir director and a member of Aloha Nani Hula Dancers, and the Kanikapila Band. Her current experiences include singing in the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Clara choir and is a member of Kauʻi Isa Kahaku’s Hālau Nā Wai Ola. Being a student in the Kapalakiko ʻukulele class and workshop band renewed her interest in gaining more knowledge and understanding of the Hawaiian culture, especially the musical and poetic elements of her roots in Hawaiʻi which led to her apprenticeship with the Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band. Lillian has two children; son Laurence of Los Angeles and daughter Lorri of Santa Clara. Lillian and her husband Larry, both retired, moved to Santa Clara to homeschool her granddaughter,   Marci.

KAREN GEHRMAN

karen gehrman

Born in La Mesa, California, and raised in Virginia, Rhode Island and Hawai’i, Karen graduated from Moanalua High School in 1985 and attended University of Hawai’i Manoa and San Francisco State University. Picking up her dad’s abandoned guitar, she taught herself to play at age 10.  Through her 20s she sang, composed and performed in Seattle, Honolulu and San Francisco.  She became enamored with Hawaiian music under the tutelage of Virginia Halemano Kalua while working at KTUH radio.  After studying the Kapalakiko ‘ukulele method, she is excited to take on the challenge of ki ho’alu.   Currently a student of hula with Patrick Makuakane and Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu, she lives in San Francisco with her husband Fred McCord and daughter Zuzu.

SAICHI KAWAHARA

Saichi 2015

Saichi Minoakanokapalakiko Kaiholani Kawahara born in ‘Auwaiolimu Oʻahu in 1937, is the founder and leader of the Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band. After spending summers of his youth in Kona, he graduated from McKinley High School in 1955. He has been involved in some form in the music business since age 11 when he played the trombone for Juanita Harris at Kawānanakoa Intermediate School. In Honolulu he learned his craft by performing with choral groups, marching bands, symphonic concert bands, funeral bands, dance bands, combos and Japanese stage bands. Moving to New York City in 1958, he coveted a career as a percussionist studying with Elvin Jones (John Coltrane); and later with Terry Clarke (John Handy Quintet & Fifth Dimension); and Roland Kohloff (San Francisco Symphony & New York Philharmonic). His percussion lessons served him well as he performed as a principal drummer with Seiichi Tanaka’s San Francisco Taiko Dojo for several years. While matriculating at New York City’s New School of Social Research he became a student of the contemporary musician, John Cage and studied modern dance with Midi Garth. Saichi plays the ʻukulele, harmonica and autoharp and is the falsetto lead of the KHB. In conjunction with his band duties, he also offers classes in ʻukulele, Hawaiian falsetto singing, and Hawaiian music performance. In September 1998, Saichi journeyed to Waimea, Hawaiʻi and came away with honors in the 7th Annual Clyde Kindy Sproat Falsetto & Storytelling contest. He appears as a chorus member on Raymond Kāne’s recording Punahele (Dancing Cat Records 08022-38001, 1994) and is the ʻukulele player on the soundtrack of Loni Ding’s film “Nisei Soldier.” A retired rod buster with Ironworkers Local 378, Oakland-Benicia, California, Saichi is married to the former Evelyn Escuadro Shaw and they have four grandchildren: Vincent Keoneakea, Victoria Elizabeth Kamāliekauahiahi, Lia Ashley Ke‘alamoanioku‘upuamale, and Brian Gian Shaw, who live in Altadena, California and are involved with Hawaiian culture with Kunewa Mook and Hālau Hula Kamuela 2.

BARB PLANK

barb plankBorn in Pennsylvania, Barbara Fernlund Plank is the daughter of a retired army colonel/chaplain and a classically trained vocalist mother, who studied under opera singer Lloyd Thomas Leech. Both parents, of Swedish descent, come from a long line of classically trained vocalists.  At an early age, Barb sang in church choirs, with her family and as a soloist. She began studying classical piano and guitar from the age of 9 and classical voice from the age of 16, performed in high school choirs and musical theater.  Earned a degree in mathematics at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1988, following college, she embarked on singer/songwriting career in San Francisco and formed multiple bands (Big Love Reunion, Sinful Doin’s, Barb & the Wire, Ruby Rakes, …) in the alt-roots-rock/country/folk/bluegrass/jazz genres. On a chance trip to Maui she fell in love with the people, culture and music of Hawai’i and decided to become immersed in it enrolling in the Kapalakiko ‘ukulele classes and mele workshop. This led to her apprenticeship with the Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band. She is married to David Plank, former recording engineer/producer, who earned a gold record for his work on Joe Satriani’s album, “Flying in a Blue Dream.”  He has also worked with prominent performers such as Windham Hill’s Turtle Island String Quartet and the Modern Mandolin Quartet, alongside Howard Johnston of Different Fur Studios/Dancing Cat Records.  Barb lives in San Francisco with David and son Max and works as an IT project manager.

FRANK VERNON

Frank 2015

With a love of country music nurtured in his birth state, Tennessee, Frank Vernon started playing banjo ʻukulele while in the seventh grade and moved on to various instruments. Down through the years he performed on the banjo in jug bands [San Andreas Fault Finders] and [Gold Country]. In 2004, at the suggestions of a friend, Frank and his wife Billie June enrolled in ʻukulele classes at the Cupertino Senior Center. Hampered by arthritis, Frank switched to the bass and performed with various Hawaiian groups in the South Bay; “Nā Hoaloha Hoʻokani Pila”, “Aloha Nani Dancers”, “Kanikapila Band”, with Derrick DeMotta in “Na Leo Pumehana”, and Kika Duponte and Jackie Carvalho in the “no name Band”. In 2008 Frank enrolled in the Kapalakiko ʻukulele classes which led to his apprenticeship with the Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band. Frank was born in Nashville, Tennessee. His family moved toNew Jersey, then to San Mateo where he graduated from Hillsdale High School in 1957; where he played guitar in the Rhythm and Blues band called “The Fabulous Dead Beats” that performed mainly at school functions. Retired from management positions  in various electronics companies, Frank is married to the former Billie June Blondell and the couple have two off spring; David [Lydia], and Michelle [Keith] Coleman, and two granddaughters, Sydney and Ellie. 

CATHY WONG

cathy wongCathy Wong’s mother is a native from Kalihi, she was a hula student with the Beamer method of hula foundation under Kumu Hula George Na’ope. Cathy’s father is a collector of Hawaiian music records and a citizen of the island of Singapore. In transit, on the way to being born in Singapore, a fall resulted in Cathy being born in the then British Colony of Hong Kong. She was raised island style by her Singaporean father, sansei mother, chinese grandmother, nisei tutu and godmother in Singapore, Honolulu and Hilo respectively. As both parents are loyal alumni of UH Manoa, Cathy followed in her parent’s footsteps and finished up her schooling in Honolulu at UH Manoa, moving to San Francisco to keep company with her 85 year old Chinese grandmother after 10 years in Honolulu, Hawaii. A student of music since childhood, she played the piano, the violin, and the drum set, and played the drum set in the band of the Moanalua Gardens Missionary Church in Honolulu. She became a hula haumana with Kumu Mahealani Uchiyama at Hālau Ka Ua Tuahine in Berkeley, and joined the Tahitian drumming and music group of same, she plays the Tahitian to’ere (slit drum) and the Tahitian banjo. Her true interest in Hawaiian music started when she enrolled in the Kapalakiko system of learning the ‘ukulele which lead to her apprenticeship with the Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band.