Kapena, considered to be one of Hawaii’s premier island bands has more than 20 Island Music CD’s to their credit. Although the band has been through some changes, its founding member, Kelly Boy De Lima is still the band leader. Kapena continues to be an institution that embraces what islanders fell in love with when fans first heard the unique sound of their “electrifying” Kapena music. In the early 2000’s, Kelly Boy introduced Hawaii to the next generation of Kapena, his three children—Kapena, Kalena and Lilo. With the next generation came a new, fresh Kapena sound. Kelly Boy’s three children have gained success of their own, writing new original music and being nominated and winning multiple Na Hoku Hanohano awards. In October 2017, Kapena released their first full length album as a family band. The album titled “Palena Ole” won the group four awards at the prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in May 2018 including Album Of The Year and Group Of The Year. This new Kapena band offers a diverse new package for the old diehard Kapena fans as well as a new generation of Kapena fans.
Lead Vocals and Ukulele
Kelly Boy DeLima is the founder and leader of the group, Kapena. His musical journey began in 1984 when he competed with his two Tongan brothers in Brown Bags to Stardom. His niche of being that “haole boy who could sing Hawaiian music” gained the group a lot of attention and within a few years, Kapena became one of the hottest bands in the islands. Kelly Boy has toured all over the world spreading that electrifying Kapena music that fans first fell in love with. He is a multiple Na Hoku Hanohano award winner and has come out with over 20 CDs. Kelly Boy has been bringing that feel good island music to the world for over 30 years! He plays throughout Hawaii seven nights a week and he still tours all over the world. His genuine personality, captivating stage presence and timeless music has made him one of the hardest working musicians in the business.
Vocals and Drums
Kapena DeLima has been a member of the group Kapena for over 15 years. He began as the group’s keyboardist at only 11 years old and is now the drummer and musical director. In 2009, Kapena graduated from Ex’pression College for Digital Arts in Emeryville, California with a Bachelor’s of Science in Audio Engineering. He is now the owner, head engineer and producer at Bu Print Studios. In 2013, Kapena won his first Na Hoku Hanohano award for “Engineer of the Year”. The following year, Kapena took home his second Na Hoku Hanohano award for “Contemporary Album of the Year” for his first solo CD titled “Cast Your Cares”. Kapena is one of the most sought after Studio Engineers and musicians in the islands.
Vocals and Keys
Kalenaku DeLima has been the keyboardist and vocalist in the group Kapena since 2006. She was classically trained in piano and voice for over 10 years. She has held the lead female vocalist role in the Disney Aulani’s nighttime show called the “Aulani Starlit Hui” since the opening of the hotel in 2011 and now performs nightly in the new Disney Luau show called “Ka Wa’a”. Kalena grew up singing Hawaiian Music and playing ukulele with her father in Waikiki. She released her first Island Reggae single entitled, “Hideaway” in 2010 and with that release she earned her first Na Hoku Hanohano award nomination. She graduated from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and then continued her education in the New Media Arts Interface Design program at Kapiolani Community College. Kalena is currently the group’s in-house graphic designer and writer. In 2017, the group Kapena released their first full length family album titled “Palena ‘Ole”. That release earned the band four Na Hoku Hanohano Awards including Album Of The Year and Group Of The Year.
Vocals and Bass Guitar
Leolani “Lilo” DeLima has been with the group Kapena since 2009. In the past few years, she has become well known for being one of the only regular gigging female bassists in Hawaii. Lilo began playing bass in 2006 when her dad, Kelly Boy DeLima, pushed her to start playing duo with him in Waikiki. She grew exponentially at these nightly “gigs” with her dad and today she has grown to be one of the most solid bass players in Hawaii. Lilo has gained success of her own as a songwriter, as well. Her first single, titled “I Am A Queen” got her a Na Hoku Hanohano award nomination and earned her the top spots on Hawaii’s Island Reggae radio stations for months. Since then, she has gained more success as a writer with songs “My Everything” featuring her sister, Kalenaku and Josh Jones and her newest single, entitled “The Peasant and The Queen” which features bass player of Steel Pulse, Amlak Tafari. In 2017, Lilo become a featured artist who is sponsored by Kala ‘Ukulele. She received a beautiful solid body, Koa California U-Bass and performs regularly with that bass throughout Waikiki. Check out more about her sponsorship at our blog here. In 2017, the group Kapena released their first full length family album titled “Palena ‘Ole”. That release earned the band four Na Hoku Hanohano Awards including Album Of The Year and Group Of The Year.
My dad, Rudolph “Duffy” DeLima, named the band Kapena. He told us, “You don’t want a long, Hawaiian name. You want something short and to the point.” He told Me, Tiva and Timo that he used to cut out of school and go to Kapena falls and he really liked that name. Kapena, in hawaiian, means a captain of a plane or ship. We entered Brown Bags under Kaimuki High School as Kapena in 1985. However, that year, it went through an elimination process called Hawaii High. We competed against Leilehua High School and the winners between the two high schools would go to Brown Bags at the Waikiki Shell. We had cheerleaders and it was filmed. Brown Bags was a huge event back in the day! The Hawaii High competition took the top three Kaimuki High School groups and the top three groups from Leilehua High School and out of those six, one Leilehua High School group and one group from Kaimuki High School would move on to Brown Bags at the Waikiki Shell. We didn’t win for Kaimuki High School that year and we never made it to the Brown Bags competition at the Waikiki Shell. But, after that, we started playing together at little parties. We couldn’t do more than a 15 minute set when we first began. But my dad made us booklets and he worked with us. I remember those days when we would just rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. We learned a big repertoire of songs until we could play 5 hours without a break—just, straight music. We got our first gig playing at the Polynesian Pub in Waikiki, 6 nights a week, 6-8 hours a day and we would only play for tips. But, we were making so many tips! 18 was the drinking age then and we would pack people in to that place. Tiva and Timo’s brother, Sam Tatofi, would count the tips, and Timo would joke that “some of it went missing!”
I remember Tony Conjugacion just winning a Na Hoku Hanohano award and Timo and Tiva looking at me and saying “brah, when are we going to break out of this? When are we going to get popular, do an album and start traveling?” I told them, “I don’t know but our day will come.” Tiva started working as a doorman at the Hungry Eye. All the top groups in Hawaii were playing there and Tiva would tell the management that he had a group that wanted to play there. Well, Uncle Mo used to play at the Hungry Eye on Saturdays and on one Saturday he had another engagement to be at so he called us to fill in for him. We got there at 3:30 p.m. and they don’t usually start until 5 p.m.! We were just so excited! This was a really happening place and we wanted to do a good job. We started playing at 4:57 p.m. The manager at the time was this German guy. He came in a half an hour after we started and he was infuriated when he saw that we were playing in place of Uncle Mo. He said, “Where is Mo? Who the hell is this group? Get them off now!” The bartender calmed him down and explained that Mo had another engagement that evening. He looked at us angrily and just said, “play, play!” He sat at the end of the bar and watched us play with his hand under his chin and his jaw to the ground the entire set. After we finished he came to us and said, “Who are you? Who’s Kapena? You guys are terrific! I want to hire you! You start on Sunday. The guy that plays on Sunday always comes late. I fire him!” We were in the major leagues, we felt like. Shortly after that, we met Eddy Moreno who became our manager. He pushed us to do a live recording at Sparky’s Lounge. We wanted to call it Satisfaction Guaranteed Or Your Money Back, but we didn’t actually want to give anyone their money back so we settled for Satisfaction Guaranteed. The day of the recording was a Saturday morning at Sparky’s Lounge. My dad passed away the Wednesday before that and we dedicated the album to him. I remember going up the Pali and hearing our song for the first time on the radio. I remember thinking, “man, I can’t believe after everything we’ve been through and everything we came out of, our music is playing on the radio!” At that point, this was the biggest thing I had ever accomplished. I was a bad kid growing up and I felt like I had finally done something right in my life. My dad wasn’t there but I knew he would have been proud of me. The release of our first album really made us feel like we were finally peers with the top-notch musicians in Hawaii. We were nominated for a NaHoku Hanohano Award for Most Promising Artist the year we released Satisfaction Guaranteed and although we lost, it made us way stronger and hungrier than ever! We did our second album, Kapena and More. That album won us two Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 1988 for Contemporary Album Of The Year and Group Of The Year. We also had the number one song on FM100 for 10 months straight. We started traveling all over after that. We were touring for most of the year and when we weren’t touring we were doing 4-5 shows a day at home. Sometimes, we would do shows on 2 or 3 different islands all in the same day! We met Ken Thompson shortly after that who became our new manager. The first gig we did with him was in Maui and we were nervous because he was from the mainland and we didn’t know if we could trust him. We finished the show, paid him his share and we split the rest of the pay. From then on, we were really on our way.
We continued playing and making good fun music together for many years until all the traveling and gigging started to take a toll on our home lives. Our schedules outside of music got busier; we were all raising children and had other responsibilities to take care of. So, after years of music making, we decided to go our separate ways. However, music creates a bond that is unlike any other. With the arrival of our 30–year anniversary came so many amazing memories of the beginning of Kapena and that amazing ride my brothers and I journeyed on so many years ago. It only felt right to come together again and to thank the people who made us who we are by giving them one more electrifying show. To the people of Hawaii and every Kapena fan worldwide, thank you for your years of support and love.
– Kelly Boy DeLima