A Soulful Sound

Troy Waialeale doesn’t know life without melody.

Country, Hawaiian, classic rock, in a band or solo, the Puhi musician has been singing and stringing the ukulele for as song as he can remember.

And he wouldn’t want it any other way.

“Music,” the 49-year-old said, “is basically a part of my soul.”

Waialeale comes from a long line of musicians. His entire family sings or play instruments, and his great-grandfather’s sister was Lena Machado, the famous Hawaiian composer and entertainer known as “Hawaii’s Songbird,” who ruled the Hawaiian music scene in the 1930s and 1940s.

“My father used to play with her as a young boy, and she baby sat me,” Waialeale said about the early influence on him. “I grew up watching musicians constantly.”

All genres, too. He likes a good cowboy tune as much as he likes belting opera around the house.

“My mom’s from Houston and my dad is from Kauai,” he said. “My mom, coming from Texas, brought her country with her.”

His first introduction to country stretches back to when Willie Nelson was young and clean cut.

“I’m serious,” he said of his first Nelson album. “He had a crew cut on the cover.”

While busy playing weddings all year, Waialeale also performs from 7 to 9 every Friday night at the Bull Shed restaurant, 4-796 Kuhio Highway, in Kapaa.

He mixes his flair for all types of music with story telling and translating or explaining Hawaiian songs.

“I try to inform people about our music,” he said. “They like the sound and the beat, but they don’t know what’s being said.”

Hawaiian songs are rich in history and each song carries more than one meaning.

A song about a beautiful flower?

“It’s definitely about a woman,” he said. “I’m secretly describing her as a flower.”

But the best part about playing music — and it’s been true his whole life — is seeing people react. It’s a rush, he said, watching them enjoy a show.

“That’s the best feeling in the world,” he said. “I touched them in some way. There’s no greater thrill than that.”

Not that Waialeale, who grew up in the Wailua Homesteads, needs a crowd to do what he loves to do. Whether onstage or by himself, music is always a part of him.

“I’m constantly singing throughout the day,” he said. “I’m singing anything, ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ it doesn’t matter. I’m all over the place. But I’m singing something.”


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