Why A Hawaiian Music Icon Is Commemorated At Waikiki Beach Walk

August 08, 2023

Gabby Pahinui Makalauna Celebration logo

Gabby “Pops” Pahinui is a Hawaiian music legend, known throughout the Hawaiian music community as an icon in the Hawaiian cultural renaissance of the early 1970s, and the person most responsible for the revival of Kī Hō'alu, the Hawaiian music art form known as “slack key.”

He was also not a regular attraction in the Waikiki music scene, instead most associated with the quiet agricultural community of Waimanalo, where he lived and would invite celebrated local artists to drop by and jam in impromptu gatherings known as kanikapila.
Why then, is there a special annual event at Waikiki Beach Walk to commemorate this near-mythical musical star?
The answer is that while he didn’t perform in Waikiki, his talent was so great that he in ways large and small influenced and inspired nearly every artist who did perform there for the past 50 years.  
And since Waikiki Beach Walk has been dedicated to the celebration and preservation of authentic Hawaiian mele (music) and hula since its inception, it was natural that Waikiki Beach Walk was selected for the location of the statue that commemorates this special Hawaiian music legend.

Statue of Gabby Pahinui holding a guitarThat means Waikiki Beach Walk is the location of Makalauna, the annual festival that honors and celebrates Gabby with tributes, memories, and of course, music.
This year’s Makalauna is set for Saturday, August 12, beginning at 4:30 p.m. with the heralding call of a conch blow, followed by an opening chant. An offering of the hula will then be presented accompanied by song.
Celebrated MC & Host Kimo Kahoana will recall Gabby’s musical life, followed by reflections by members of his family and “friends of Gabby” (which oftentimes includes major names in the Hawaiian music community) who will share tributes in the form of lei, oli (chant), mele (song), himeni (choral), and live acoustic accompaniments.

This includes members of the Pahinui ʻohana, including “Pops’” grandson, Kunia Galdeira, himself an accomplished musician, who will be performing, along with a prestigious gathering of local musical friends, artists, entertainers, apprentices, and devotees of the art form along with admirers of one of Hawaii’s greatest musicians.

Come early and enjoy free parking in Waikiki

Parking location for Waikiki Beach Walk at Embassy Suites Porte Cochere for $4 per half hour after 3PM

Waikiki Beach Walk offers complimentary valet parking with a $10 purchase from any Waikiki Beach Walk merchant or restaurant.

All photos courtesy of Waikiki Beach Walk