Local singer Nohelani Cypriano is crafting her own legacy.
Nohelani Cypriano has conjured the kind of long-standing musical career here in the islands that most dream of—and many might (metaphorically) kill for. Over the past 30 years, this beloved daughter of a long-time Hawaiian entertainer has performed all around the world, released 11 chart-topping albums, garnered popular acclaim with multiple Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (Hawai‘i’s version of the Grammys), and, in 1997, launched the “Local Divas,” a dream-team quartet featuring fellow local entertainers Carole Kai, Melveen Leed and the late Loyal Garner. Not bad for a laidback local girl from Honolulu.
Each week in Waikiki, you can catch this versatile Hawaiian singer and multi-instrumentalist (piano, guitar, bass, drums and steel guitar) at Tropics Bar & Grill in the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where she’s fond of commingling the contemporary: Adele, Maroon 5 and Lady Antebellum, with the classic: Chaka Khan, The Beatles, Earth, Wind & Fire, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder and Gloria Estefan, among others. Right off world-famous Waikiki Beach, it’s the perfect setting for her sundown serenades.
“Of course, I love the beautiful beach, wonderful sunsets and meeting visitors from all over the world,” she opines. “But mostly, it reminds me of my late mother who played Hawaiian music in Waikiki for over 40 years. Her Hawaiian trio played here for many years—a lot of the old-timers who work here still remember her, so it feels like coming home whenever I play here.”
Cypriano’s mom, Leina‘ala Simerson, who sang “cha-lang-a-lang” Hawaiian music for many years as well as played piano, ‘ukulele and upright bass, was a big influence on and inspiration to young Nohe. From an early age, her mom dragged her along to music lessons and gigs abroad. Eventually, they sang show duets and even on a TV special.
“My mother was one of the busiest Hawaiian entertainers, running from one gig to the next for many years—it was wonderful having her as my biggest critic and also my biggest supporter.”
Over the years, Cypriano has toured the globe including Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, West Coast, Las Vegas and throughout the mainland U.S., including a personal highlight at Carnegie Hall in New York City. But these days she loves being home in the islands, often recording in the studio and playing each week for residents and visitors alike. Just like her mom before her, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has become her home away from home.
“I love meeting visitors and locals— and sharing the aloha spirit through my music. I have met so many wonderful guests from all over the world. It’s the perfect place to kick-back, relax, sip on a Mai Tai and enjoy a beautiful sunset with me.”
Tropics Bar & Grill
Hilton Hawaiian Village
2005 Kalia Road [D:4 Waikiki Map]
Thursdays, 5:30–8:30 p.m.
Fridays, 8–10:30 p.m.