“I Ho’okahi Ka Umauma, Ho’okahi ke aloha.”
All united in Harmony and Love
In 1973, Danny Naipo started his musical career at 12 years old. He became the third member of the Naipo Serenaders performing for tourists in a Maunalani Heights home, and three years later, found another venue at the lobby bar of the Hawaiian Regent Hotel in Waikiki.
At the age of 16, Danny auditioned and secured a spot in the Kailua High School Madrigal Singers under the direction of instructor, Mr. Shigeru Hotoke. The Madrigals gave Danny the wonderful privilege of visiting places all over the world: France, Germany, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Africa, Egypt, Hong Kong, and Japan—all done before graduating from high school.
These were his beginnings, and because of the confidence he gained, he went on to perform at many other places after that, singing, playing the ukulele, guitar, and electric bass, as he honed his skills in these instruments and shared his beautiful voice Daniel Naipo which many feel is one of the best in Hawaii.
From 1979 forward, Danny began performing with some of Hawaii’s most renowned entertainers including Marlene Sai, Karen Keawehawaii, Palani Vaughn and Kimo Kahoano. In 1984, Danny had a “crazy” idea to try hula. He was invited by his dear friend, Kumu Hula Master, Darrell Lupenui to join his highly acclaimed halau, “The Men of Waimapuna”.
On a hot, sunny July day in 96-degree weather, after a four hour practice, Danny realized that…maybe hula was not for him. Instead, he became a halau musician for his friend Darrell. That led later to do the same for Hula Halau O’ Kawaili‘iula as well as the Puamana Hula Studio.
In 1987, Danny performed in a show called the King’s Jubilee at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It had been contracted as a one night show, complete with fireworks to celebrate King Kamehameha day. The show was such a success that the contract for just one night was prolonged and lasted for more than 12 years. In fact, the fireworks continue every Friday night until this very day. In 1988, Danny also joined the Tihati’s family as a member of their Royal Hawaiian show.
He garnered awards in the next few years: 1990, as a member of the group, Tropical Knights—two nominations at the Na Hoku Hanohano Music Awards for contemporary island music, and in 2005, as a member of the group Na Kama, winning a Na Hoku Hanohano Music Award, the first of two that he would receive as a part of Na Kama.
Presently, Danny plays at the Chart House in Waikiki with a group that calls themselves “Pilikia.” Because there’s a good mix of locals and tourists, he makes a point not to reveal to the audience the real definition of the group’s name.
Danny Naipo is also one of the officers on the Executive Committee and co-founder with Blaine Kia and Bryan Tolentino of Na Mea Ho‘okani who have the vision of sharing Hawaii’s music and its wonderful culture with generations to come.