Just before Malani Bilyeu took the stage Sunday, Dickie Chang urged people to fill the rows of chairs lined up in the sunshine.
“If I was you folks, I’d sit right here, because this is going to be incredibly magical,” the local TV personality said.
For the next hour, Bilyeu and friends played songs from his new CD “Water Songs” as well as improvising with some popular favorites, too, capping the show with a version of “Puff that Magic Dragon” that had everyone singing along.
The audience cheered, clapped and in general whooped it up, smiling throughout the concert that served as a fundraiser for The Garden Island/Zonta Christmas Fund.
Even Dickie took the stage and the microphone for a few songs.
“When Zonta came into play, it made it a good thing for the holidays, that we can share with people who have less,” said Bilyeu, a multiple Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner and a singer, songwriter and composer whose musical career stretches back to the 1970s when he and friends formed the band, Kalapana.
“We live on such a wonderful island, we’re so spoiled. It’s a good thing to give back,” he said.
More than 100 people attended the CD release party at Gaylord’s at Kilohana on a glorious afternoon. Many gave more than the suggested $10 contribution.
“There were many generous donations made,” said Katie Beer, of the Zonta Club of Kauai. “It was a wonderful event.”
Bilyeu didn’t just perform songs. He joked with the audience and talked story about his music. He spoke of beaches, surfing, waves and hanging out with friends. And, of course, he sang.
“It’s a new album, so I still have to memorize the words,” he said.
Things went so well that copies of his CD sold out, which he believes is one of his best.
“I wanted to record the songs how I wrote the song,” he said.
But most importantly, he said, was raising money for Zonta and the Christmas fund.
He said he wanted to do something special to help the needy. The benefit concert and the CD release came together at the right time.
“We are so blessed on Kauai. I mean Oahu, Maui, they’re all right, But Kauai is on whole other level,” he said.
There is still time to donate to the TGI/Zonta Christmas Fund, which has benefited more than 600 people this year.
Each donated dollar is recorded, accounted for and spent wisely. Donations are distributed by Zonta Club members through gift certificates.
An anonymous benefactor through the Hawaii Community Foundation is offering a two-to-one match for every donation to the fund up to $10,000.
“This event helped a lot for the matching funds,” Beer said.
Checks, payable to Zonta Club of Kauai Foundation, can be mailed to P.O. Box 3032, Lihue, HI, 96766.
The following are stories of people who could use help through The Garden Island/Zonta Christmas Fund. While the names have been changed, the situations described are real.
Stan was a homeless veteran who lived in his van for several years until he obtained subsidized housing. His monthly income consists of Social Security benefits and VA benefits. Stan is physically disabled and suffers from pain in his legs and back. He has had surgeries performed on his shoulder. Stan could use a support pillow, and new comforter set and sheets for his bed.
Richard suffers from severe depression. It has been difficult for him because he is no longer able to work or enjoy some of his hobbies. He is a recovering alcoholic and continues to receive counseling for his addiction. Richard has been chronically homeless for several years. He receives monthly benefits from Social Security and food stamps. Richard is on a waiting list for subsidized housing.