Music and leis

Celebrate May Day with the sound and art of aloha.

Singer and ukulele player Paula Fuga will perform during the 35th annual Irmalee and Walter Pomroy Lei Contest on May Day, Friday, May 1 at the Kauai Museum.

The concert begins at 5 p.m.

Fuga, who has performed at the White House for President Barack Obama, is a Louisiana native but Hawaii girl at heart. She moved to Honolulu as an infant and feels a deep connection to the island. But her connection to Louisiana is reflected in some of her songs.

“I feel the soulful music I play show those roots,” Fuga said.

Fuga started playing professionally about 10 years ago, but has enjoyed music her whole life.

“I got my first ukulele as a graduation present from my grandma,” she said. “It was my grandfather’s ukulele and it meant a lot to me to have it.”

Fuga is recording her next album, “Rain on Sunday.” She is proud to be using the ukulele for recording the album and said the ukulele connection will bring a special love to the album. Attendees can expect a mix of original and new songs.

She will add spice to the lei contest that will feature food vendors, lei lessons and a silent auction, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Kauai Museum.

From 7 to 9 a.m. adults can drop of their leis at the museum’s front porch. Keiki can create leis for the Keiki La Lei Contest from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with judging at 4 p.m. Children will have 1 hour to create their lei and must bring their own materials. No supplies will be provided. 

In addition to the contests, there will be a Make-a-Lei tent for anyone who wants to learn how to make basic leis.

Chucky Boy Chock, director of exhibits for the Kauai Museum, said he is happy to have Fuga at the event so people can celebrate the leis with aloha and music.

“We wanted to add some spice to the event and remind people of what the leis are all about with the Hawaiian culture,” Chock said.

Irmalee and Walter Pomroy founded the event 35 years ago.

“Irmalee, flowers and leis go hand in hand,” Chock said. “She can turn weeds into a piece of art. She looked at everything as a treasure.”

It’s a great chance to introduce the cultural craft to the keiki.

“Every lei from the keiki is a work of art and treasure, especially in their own eyes,” he said. “We hope that from this contest they keep the art with them throughout their life, one day becoming the next lei master or kumu of lei making.”

The lei event is exciting for Fuga.

She played in the White House a few years ago during the president’s first term and is invited for a return performance in May. She was also honored to play at the Merrie Monarch Festival, where she took first place playing along side the Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela. Still, she said she’s looking forward to the lei contest as much as anything.

“I became very close with the Pomroy’s from my sister-in-law,” Fuga said. “They make the most beautiful leis and I used to see the posters and wished I could be there and I could see the event. Now, I finally have an opportunity to see the leis. I am so excited.”

Fuga, who won the Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Most Promising New Artist in 2007, said awards don’t mean that much to her. 

“I appreciate everyone and the awards, but at the end of the day, I’m not playing for awards, I’m not playing for anyone else but myself,” she said. “Music makes me feel good. Everything else is a bonus.”

Tickets for the concert are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. 

Info: 245-6931

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