In a departure from Hawaiian tradition, which dictates that falsetto singing contests are a man’s domain, Hana resident Lahela Lee Park was named the winner of the inaugural Carmen Hulu Lindsey Leo Ha‘iha‘i Falsetto Contest, the first ever restricted to women entrants. The competition was held in Kapalua April 16.
The contest drew five competitors, three from Maui and one each from Hilo and Honolulu. Park Lee, a ranger at Haleakala National Park’s Kipahulu District, won the top prize with her rendition of “Pua Like ‘Ole” which she dedicated to beloved kumu hulu, composer, and recording artist, Johnny Lum Ho, who had passed away two weeks earlier. She won a two-night stay at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua—which hosted the competition—a beautiful lei hulu (feather lei), a custom ukulele, professional recording opportunities, and $600 cash. Watch her winning performance here.
Maui Kamehameha School senior Leimana Purdy of Waiohuli took second place with her performance of “Aloha Punalu’u” and received a $400 cash prize. Third place winner Polanimakamae Kahakalau-Kalima of Hilo sang her mele inoa—or “name song”—“He Po Lani Makamae” and received $300.