Remembering Malani Bilyeu, a leading member of iconic musical group, Kalapana
Friends and fellow Hawai'i musicians remember one of Kalapana's leading band members, Malani Bilyeu
During the 70’s Kalapana’s songs helped set the tone of what contemporary Hawaiian music sounded like.
“I think his songs, and many people would agree, are stories of our lives. They kind of take us back to that time and place where we first heard those songs growing up with that music as Kalapana,” said fellow musician, Shawn Pimental.
In the recent years Pimental has shared the stage with the iconic group touring the islands and overseas.
In the groups earliest years, it was Malani Bilyeu – a founding band member – who was there from the beginning.
“Writing and singing his music was just a way of him expressing his true self,” said Kalani Whitford, Bilyeu’s close friend.
Bilyeu was considered a composer of timeless tunes. Songs that included, “Naturally, “(For You) I’d Chase the Rainbow,” and “You Make it Hard.”
Whitford said, “The music really started under the palm trees at Magic Island talking about a place called Kalapana. The next thing, Kalapana became an entity of a musical icon.”
Their music took a generation on a musical journey.
“As a musician, his song writing was amazing.” Said Pimental.
Together the group has garnered numerous awards. Bilyeu had also maintained a successful solo career receiving several musical accolades.
Iconic Hawai’i musician, Henry Kapono, said in a phone interview, “He put a stamp on the islands and his voice will echo throughout the islands for all time.”
For fans, family, and friends – his music was the only thing to leave a lasting impression
“Everywhere he went, people were just so attracted to his personality,” said Pimental.
It was his infectious spirit both on and off the stage.
“I mean the last time I played with him – a couple weeks ago – he was the same way. Taking life real easy and that’s what life is about, and should be about. He definitely amplified that philosophy,” said Kapono.
With a smile, Pimental recalls a fond last encounter with Bilyeu before his passing.
“It was like 10 o’clock at night, I was walking through the airport after getting of a flight and I heard somebody singing. The airport was empty and of course it was him lying back in the massage chair singing at the top of his lungs.”
Memories many will miss most.
Malani passed at the age of 69.