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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 19, 2002

Award-winning virtuoso singer Dennis Pavao dies

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Dennis Pavao, a Hawaiian falsetto virtuoso and winner of numerous Na Hoku Hanohano music awards, died yesterday on Maui. He was 50.

Pavao had been hospitalized at Maui Memorial Medical Center for a week after complaining of dizziness, said Lea Uehara, whose Tropical Music company produced several of Pavao's recordings.

"He was a really special person, a wonderful person," Uehara said.

Pavao was born in Kalapana on the Big Island and got his musical career under way in a high school rock band. In the early 1970s, he joined cousins Ledward and Nedward Ka'apana to form Hui 'Ohana. Hui 'Ohana soon became the premier falsetto group in Hawai'i.

Later that decade the group broke up, but Ledward Ka'apana and Pavao went on to win further acclaim in solo careers.

Pavao's voice has been described as distinctive, clear, pure and very Hawaiian.

Over the years, Pavao released six albums, including his 1989 "Hawaiian Soul" that was named the Na Hoku Hanohano traditional Hawaiian album of the year. In 1987, he was named top male vocalist for his "Na Leo Ki'eki'e."

His anthology album, "Na Mele Henoheno," received a Na Hoku Hanohano award in 1993.

The title song of his 1994 album, "All Hawai'i Stand Together," has become an anthem for many Hawaiian sovereignty groups.

Pavao is survived by his wife, Leialoha, and six children. Services are pending.