(BIVN) – Hawaii performers and cultural aficionados are remembering Aunty Diana Aki, the Songbird of Miloliʻi, who passed away in January.
“I was just so touched by her Aloha and I was really fortunate to call her a friend,” said musician Christy Leinaʻala Lassiter. “I’ve known her for many, many years and her passing was… a natural part of life. She left us a legacy. She left us song. She left us joy. She left beautiful music as she touched our hearts.”
Diana Puakina Aki was 76 when she died on January 8 at Hilo Medical Center. The Hilo-born singer, songwriter and ‘ukuleleist won the Na Hoku Hanohano Female Vocalist of the Year award in 1990, and performed with many well-known musicians over the course of her long career.
Big Island Video News recently caught up with Lassiter and KWXX radio personality Kuʻehu Mauga, who talked about the inspiration and friendship of Aki over the years.
“Really, she was one in a million. You don’t find aunties like those these days,” Mauga said. “I would see her throughout Hilo and across our island, just so full of love. The Hawaiian word that comes to me whenever I think of Auntie Diana is a ʻoluʻolu. She was so pleasant, she was sweet, she loved everyone and anyone that she would come across in life.”
Lassiter reflected on the beautiful falsetto singing voice for which Aki was known. “She has the most beautiful natural voice that just took you to another place, and it was never forced,” Lassiter said. “She sang from the heart.”
“Our continued prayers are with the Aki ʻohana,” Mauga said, “and we love you Auntie Diana, always.”