Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Kaneohe woman competes on American Idol

January 27th, 2016
By



Musician Ashley Lilinoe shares her love through her music - a clear, soulful voice accompanied by acoustic guitar that stirs the heart. At 21 years old, this accomplished singer/ songwriter is now meeting a national audience as one of the contestants on American Idol (FOX).

IMG_0146

"The producers found me online, because I post my music videos. They asked me to audition, but the first couple times I ignored their emails because a television competition just didn't resonate with me. It's not my calling," she remembers. "The third time, the producer said, 'I believe in you and want you to try out.' I felt his heart and I decided to do it. What have I got to lose, right?"

She's right; she has nothing to lose and everything to gain. When the show debuted in mid-January, her Facebook page went wild. "I got hundreds of notifications every five minutes. It was crazy," she laughs. She's definitely on a bigger stage now.

Lilinoe also learned about the business of show-biz. "Presence is important. I saw how I was portrayed through the process. I also realized being myself is exactly what I needed to do. I stuck to my true self."

Who is the true Ashely Lilinoe? The born and bred Kaneohe girl is a stunning mixture of eleven ethnicities: Predominantly Filipino, but also Native Hawaiian, Native American, Swedish, and Chinese.

Her last name is Swedish: it's Soderberg, and Lilinoe is a stage name, derived from part of her incredibly long Hawaiian middle name. "It means 'the misty lei that lays upon the flower of the heavens.' Lilinoe is 'fine mist,'" she enlightens.

"What I really am, though, is universal. I don't connect with just one culture," she clarifies.

IMG_0145

Lilinoe grew up in a musical family in Kaneohe. "We live on a lane with lots of families, and when someone comes out to celebrate something, we'd all go out and play music. I'd be in the garage watching, and then I'd practice what I heard. My parents, my angels - they guided me to practice. My ear was my teacher," she recalls.

She was about six when she first picked up an ukulele. At Castle High School, she started playing the guitar.

"I love how music makes me feel and how it can make others feel. Everything is a song: The ocean, the environment, the blue sky," she breathes as she looks up at the clear lazuline sky of a Honolulu winter.

In fact, it's the Earth that inspires her through its wordlessness. "I'm learning to unlearn traditional songwriting techniques. It doesn't have to be 'verse, chorus, bridge. It's not necessary. My heart says to listen to the silence."

She is lovely and thoughtful, gentle and poised. She seems unconcerned about fame and fortune, instead focused on a metaphysical goal of unconditional love for self and others, living in the moment, surrendering to life. She strikes me as wise beyond her years.

Lilinoe says she needs the silence more than ever in the overwhelming "aftermath" of American Idol. It was a high-intensity, non-stop experience. "I'm still observing with my heart. There are no words to describe it right now," she decides.

"Yes, it opened doors for my career. More importantly, it opened doors to peoples' hearts, to let them connect with me and see there's another human being like me in this world," she smiles.

Actually, she says she didn't really know what her music sounded like until a year ago. She was too busy playing gigs to stop and listen to herself, and then it was a powerful moment for her. "What I have to share - my love - is so great. It's a lot of power. I was afraid of it, and I'm still learning to gently introduce it to this world," she announces.

This means she doesn't have a regular gig. Not that she's lacking for offers, but she's spontaneous and has certain preferences. For instance, "I like playing where children are allowed. I like to entertain at places where everyone can be together," she expands.

"I love children. I love how they inspire, stretch my imagination, and guide me to my heart," she says. "I am a child. They remind me to love, to play."

Play is how she answers the question, What do you do for a living? "I flow day to day. Music provides me the monetary exchange, but I surrender to life."

As for the practical questions, she shrugs. "I'm know I'm taken care of greatly. I've given the amount I need, which is small. I'm a minimalist and an alchemist; I will recycle and upcycle things. My Earth Mother will take care of me, my friends support me. I'm always provided for."

Lilinoe's typical day is... atypical. The commonality is that it usually starts without a jarring alarm clock, and with the luxury of a slow rising from bed. "I greet myself, I greet the new day, and I welcome what comes."

As you may be able to guess by now, Lilinoe eschews labeling her music with any one genre. For purposes of print, she acquiesces to give me some kind of description: neo-soul/blues/jazz/R&B/funk. However, she prefers to call it "soul-filling music." If you hear her sing, you'll understand.

Lilinoe has no plans set in stone for the future. When I ask where she sees herself in five years, she chuckles. "Five years? I don't even know what tomorrow brings."

She does, however, know this: "I honor myself deeply. I show up for life, and I navigate life through my heart. I live by feeling, and if it feels good, I do it."

While her calling may be as a musician that sings emotion into people's hearts, she says her soul-mission is "to return to self. To be into my heart so that I can truly hear the voices who call for help."

Lilinoe leaves me with a parting thought for you all: "Wherever I am, everyone is my family."

American Idol airs Wednesday and Thursday nights on KHON2 (FOX).

Lilinoe's website: http://www.ashleylilinoe.earth/

Other coverage of Lilinoe: http://khon2.com/2016/01/14/meet-american-idol-hopeful-ashley-lilinoe-from-kaneohe-3/

Update: Lilinoe was eliminated on the January 28, 2016 episode.

Posted in Career | 1 Comment »

All-Star Catcher Kurt Suzuki returns to Maui to host fundraisers

January 15th, 2016
By



Major League Baseball All Star Kurt Suzuki returns home to Maui to host two events this weekend, one of which will be co-hosted with world renowned chef Alan Wong.

IMG_0149

On, Saturday, January 16th, Kurt will be hosting his fifth annual Youth Baseball Clinic at Iron Maehara Stadium from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. In partnership with the All Pono Organization, the Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation has continued to make a positive impact on countless members of Hawaii’s youth by teaching them hard work, dedication and the values of being a team player.

For the second straight year, Kurt joins forces with local celebrity chef and restaurateur Alan Wong to host A Taste of Hawaii on Sunday, January 17th at the Four Seasons Hotel in Wailea from 5:30 - 8 p.m. A special private VIP cocktail reception will also take place from 5 - 5:30 p.m.

Several celebrity chefs will feature their own dishes while professional athletes serve them up.  Participants include Chefs Sheldon Simeon (Top Chef Finalist), Isaac Bancaco (Iron Chef America, Head Chef at Andaz Hotel, Maui), Cameron Lewark (Chef at Spago, Four Seasons, Maui) and Craig Dryhurst (Head Chef at Four Seasons, Maui).

Proceeds from A Taste of Hawaii will help raise funds for the Kapi`olani Medical Center, Pediatric Cancer Division and the National Kidney Foundation. Kurt’s father Warren Suzuki, who is a stage four kidney cancer survivor and has been in remission for seven years.

It's put on by The Kurt Suzuki Family Foundation, a 501c3 organization that is dedicated to supporting the scientific research of chronic illnesses as well as encouraging healthy lifestyle choices. For more information on the Kurt Suzuki Foundation, please visit www.kurtsuzukifamilyfoundation.org.

Makeup artist provides beauty more than skin deep

December 23rd, 2015
By



Honolulu makeup artist Jonathan Freitas spends his days making people feel beautiful - inside and out. He's been practicing his craft for 13 years, always as a representative for the makeup line Motives.

Jon and me

Jon and me

Freitas's days are a mixture of meeting clients, teaching new Motives reps, and doing makeup. He has a small studio in The Co-op in Ward Warehouse where he does some of this, and he goes out to provide makeup for events, weddings, photo shoots, television tapings, special effects needs, and lately, Halloween costumes.

Today, he's an established industry professional. Sometimes, he says, it's a surprise to him where he landed in life.

Ooh, all the pretty colors!

Ooh, all the pretty colors!

After graduating from Kamehameha Schools, he studied psychology and sociology at Seattle University. Freitas has always liked children - absolutely evident by the way mine quickly takes to him - and decided the best combination of his talents and interests would be to work as a Kamehameha Schools dorm advisor. "I could interact with the kids, but not in a clinical setting of a therapist's office," he explains.

He moved back to the Islands in 1993 as an advisor for the boys at Iolani Dorm. He married his college sweetheart and found himself a father shortly thereafter. His three children are 21 year old Janya, 18 year old Chrislyn, and 13 year old Ethan. It was an ideal job that let him spend a lot of time with the kids.

It was a fun period- young children, the early blush of marriage, a rewarding job. Then things started to dissolve in the early 2000s, reaching a low with his divorce in 2007. He got full custody of the children, which was fulfilling but extremely draining.

Freitas says he hit rock bottom for five years. "I was a single dad. I was exhausted. I felt angry that my wife just left the picture. I stuffed my emotions until it ate me alive."

Additionally, near the end of this very difficult period, he started questioning his identity as a straight man. "I met a new friend, Shawn, at volleyball. We became good friends, but then I felt something else going on. I denied it to myself at first because I thought it wasn't acceptable to have feelings for a man. It was a big struggle to accept my homosexuality, and a slow coming out," Freitas recalls.

In the end, it was a talk with his mother that helped nudge him into his new life. "My work with Motives was taking off. I really enjoyed it and saw this as my new career. I had come out as gay. I wanted a change, and decided to quit my job at Kamehameha and move into my own place for the first time!"

A story from his parent's life inspired him to take the plunge. "After my dad retired from the Air Force in North Dakota, my parents wanted to start a new chapter of life. They knew they wanted to move to Washington State, but weren't sure which city. They just packed up the car and drove west until they hit I-5 and the road forked. Should they go north or south? They took a guess and ended up driving to Tacoma, where life worked out wonderfully for the next two decades," Freitas recounts.

His dad found a job with Boeing, and his mother went to college to become an RN. "Have faith. Take risks. Just know things will be OK" are the lessons he takes out of this story.

In 2013, he took his own risk by quitting the dorm advisor job, having faith that full time work as a makeup artist in Hawaii would pay the bills, and not hiding his sexuality from society. He and Shawn moved into a house in Aiea.

It's worked out better than he ever expected. "To think, I worried about so much, and for nothing. Fear of the unknown is worse than reality."

Jon and Trini Kaopuiki in Halloween Week costume for KHON2's Living 808. Courtesy: Jon Freitas

Jon and Trini Kaopuiki in Halloween Week costume for KHON2's Living 808. Courtesy: Jon Freitas

Freitas loves his work. "I'm paid to help people feel beautiful!" It's taken on a life of its own, with recent higher profile clients who include Jourdan Miller , winner of CW reality show America's Next Top Model; Keke Lindgard, the current face of Ralph Lauren; Emma Wo, Miss Hawaii USA 2015; and Trini Kaopuiki, host of KHON2's Living 808. He and his team also secured work for the Kaypee Soh Spring 2016 ready-to-wear fashion show, and Honolulu Fashion Week (Motives was the official cosmetic line.)

Gratitude, positive thinking, and self-care are a big part of Freitas' daily routine. Every day, he makes sure to spend time with positive thoughts that could include meditation, readings, audio tapes or podcasts, or videos like TEDTalks. "It helps ground me and keep me positive. I still get set back by negative interactions, but the disappointment lasts for minutes, rather than hours or a whole day."

Freitas also wants to spread this positive energy. "It's my personal mission to make everyone I meet, every single day, feel better about themselves. When I give people makeup lessons, especially at schools, I ask the kids, 'You can learn to put on cosmetic makeup, but what about your personal make up- that which makes you up inside? How can we make that or keep that beautiful?"

It's a question he asks - and strives to answer - for himself every day.

Call out for help continues for former KHON2 newsman Kirk Matthews

December 16th, 2015
By



For more than three decades, Kirk Matthews appeared in Island homes every day, delivering the latest news in his authoritative yet warm style of reporting. In 2014, however, he retired from a long career at KHON2, with the idea of enjoying retirement with his wife Linda Coble - also an esteemed former newscaster.

Kirk and me

Kirk and me

 

Wife Linda and me

Wife Linda and me

He began his career in Oregon television and radio before moving to Hawaii in 1983. I distinctly remember watching Kirk on the news when I was growing up in Hawaii.

I joined the team at KHON2 in June 2014, and it was my privilege to cross work paths with Kirk for three months before he retired. Though we didn't know each other long, I was very fond of him, and we made a habit of hanging out and chatting for about ten minutes every day.

What was supposed to be a time of travel, golf, and karaoke has sadly become a fight for his life. This year, Kirk was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.

In addition to the stress of the disease, the Matthews are under pressure from mounting medical bills. That's why his best friends got together to form Friends of Kirk, which, as a group, organized a fundraiser for Kirk.

Over the weekend, nearly 200 friends, relatives, and former colleagues attended a benefit at HASR Bistro in Chinatown to help raise money, and more importantly, to reconnect with their friend.

IMG_3477

"Words will never be able to express the mahalo, joy, and love we feel. Your remarkable dedication to the Friends fundraiser will be forever cherished. We feel as if we filled an enormous jar of support and aloha, capped it at the end of the event, and brought it home to keep for ever!!! We will imagine uncapping the jar and inhaling the love every day," Kirk and Linda said after the event.

If you want donate you can mail something to:

“Friends of Kirk”
P.O. Box 2449
Honolulu, HI 96804

Or, you can donate at any Bank of Hawaii location; be sure to mention “Friends of Kirk.”

Click here to see a video collage of Kirk's reporting:

http://khon2.com/2015/12/13/fundraising-event-draws-hundreds-to-help-retired-khon2-reporter-kirk-matthews/

Every little detail

December 4th, 2015
By



Olivia is loquacious. I guess I know where she gets that from- Claus. Just kidding. That dude could not be more quiet. And then there's the mother, paid to talk for three hours straight a day. LOL

It's at night, when we're cuddling, when she is tucking me in, that she wants to talk. It drives me nuts.

When I see her after school, I always ask her how her day was and what she did. The usual greeting, right? And the universal kid response is always - you guessed it - "I dunno."

If I persist, I might get a few sentences, but there is no further interest in talking until the absolute worst time for me, which is at bedtime. Last night was especially protracted.

I was more tired than usual when she asked me, "Can we chat?"

"No, Sweetie. Mommy wants to fall asleep."

"Please? Just a little? Tell me about your day?" I can't resist the opportunity to communicate with my girl, so I give in.

I briefly run down my day and then she wants to talk about hers. "You can just fall asleep and I can keep talking," offered Olivia. "Do you want me to tell you every little detail about my day?"

"No. Just the broad brush strokes," I said. "You can save up every little detail and tell me in the morning."

I love her to bits but 'every little detail' from the mouth of an eight year old becomes circuitous and mind-numbing. And I really don't need my mind numbed any more than it already is.

"So! OK! Well!" she begins. "Daddy dropped me off at 7:30 and then I saw Kahea, and then we walked to class, and then in class at Circle Time I got to share three feelings, except it wasn't three feelings because there were three of us so each of us got to share one feeling..."

Shopkins

Shopkins

"...and then Kieran has an Ultra Rare Shopkins, it's a sparkly cookie, Kooky Cookie, you know like my Melanie Pips watermelon or Soda Pop which are Ultra Rare? And she wants to trade me that for it, so I told her, 'Yeah, I'll trade you Monday because I don't feel like shining mine up for you right now.' So I'm going to trade her Melanie Pips because, I mean I like it, but Kieran said, 'I want to trade you that because I think you'll like this more,' and I do because I like cookies!..."

shopkins

"...and then at lunch Keali`i was screaming, 'Stop, be quiet, or we're not going to get any lunch!' Then Treton started screaming it too. Then the guy said, 'I'm not going to let you in until whoever started screaming stops,' which made them scream more. And then we finally got into lunch after the teachers made us get all organized the way they like it, and then it was my favorite lunch but I didn't get to eat it because of Treton and them. I literally chucked it down my throat and carried some out of the cafeteria in my hand..." (This story bummed me out.)

Apparently, I still received 'every little detail' even though I declined the kind offer.

She was just picking up steam some 15 minutes into this soliloquy when I had to stop her and ask for us to continue in the morning. I can't sleep with all that chirping in my ear. I was so tired I was hallucinating.

"Look. I'd love to talk all you want but I cannot do it at bedtime. Why don't you ever want to talk when I try to chat with you after school?" I asked.

And that's when the truth comes out. Turns out, she doesn't want to go to sleep. She doesn't want me to go to sleep. She's trying to extend Girls' Time.

It's so sweet, and I love her so. But Mommy can't. We just have to do all our talking when we're awake, when the sun is up.

Then it's ON. She better be careful of what she wishes for because Mommy can certainly do 'every little detail' too!