Even though Melissa Mojo loves to sing, she suffered from stage fright.
So, in 2012, she started Kauai Island Singers Showcase, which brings singers across the island together from all walks of life and stages in their musical journey.
“Basically the whole purpose was to get over stage fright. I realized I wouldn’t get over it if I don’t perform on a regular basis,” she said. “I started it so I can work on stage fright by putting on performances every couple months.”
When the group started, there were more performers than audience members, she said.
“It was pretty basic, we just had a piano,” she said.
But humble beginnings grew into 10, 15 and then 20 musicians playing the saxophone, bass to drums. About 100 people attend the concerts, some planning their vacations around KISS’s schedule.
The group tries to put on six concerts a year at All Saints Episcopal Church.
“It’s a really nice space, they and have a good sound system,” Mojo said.
Originally, KISS performed in the Women in Theatre building at the Coconut MarketPlace. But the center closed about two years ago, leaving the group homeless, she said.
So, Hank Curtis, director of music at All Saints, who also works with KISS members, asked Ryan Newman, pastor of All Saints, if the group could use the church as their home.
“We’re fortunate to have Ryan Newman,” Mojo said. “He’s so supportive and a really great guy.”
KISS performances, which take on a different theme, are also ways for singers to develop their skills and expand their repertoire, she said.
“A few KISS singers have graduated to singing professionally,” she said. “One example is Dhyana Dunville, who started with KISS from the first concert. She now sings in local venues with her own four-piece band, the Dhyana Quartet.”
Mike Kobayashi, a KISS regular, also sings regularly with The Starlighters and the Kauai Community College Jazz Band.
KISS will be performing on July 30. This month’s theme is “Feeling Good,” and feature 10 singers. Curtis will be playing the piano and Laine Griffith will be on the saxophone, clarinet and flute.
It is free.
Thanks to KISS, Mojo said she no longer gets stage fright.
“I still get nervous, but I’m much more relaxed,” she said.