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Kuiokalani Lee (31 July 19323 December 1966) was a singer-songwriter, who took part in showbusiness both in New Yorkmarker and Hawaiimarker.

Lee was born in Shanghai, China, where his parents were working as entertainers. He himself became a performer at a very young age as well. During his childhood, Lee lived in the low-income housing projects in Papkolea Hawaiian Homestead Land, where he was apparently part of the legendary "Seitz Club" of mostly Hawaiian children run by teacher Gottfried Seitz. He was a childhood friend of Kamakahukilani.

Lee worked as a knife dancer and choreographer for Polynesian reviews. He married Nani Naone, another performer, and they had four children together.

Kui Lee only achieved fame for his own musical compositions toward the very end of his life. "The Extraordinary Kui Lee" was the only album released during his lifetime. Famous songs on that album included "I'll Remember You" (brought into even greater fame by Don Ho, Elvis Presley and Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau) and "Days of my Youth", now both well-known standards in Hawai'i.

Kui Lee died of cancer in 1966 at age 34. He is sometimes referred to as the "Lenny Bruce" of Hawai'i. The now-famous Aloha From Hawaii concert by Elvis Presley in 1973, and concert merchandise sales were a benefit that raised $75,000 for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.

Further reading

  • George S. Kanahele (1979) Hawaiian Music and Musicians (University of Hawaii Press)


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