WILLIE K dreams big dreams, and why not? No other artist in Hawaii can entertain a crowd with a set that jumps from a traditional Hawaiian song to Italian opera to a Hendrix-style guitar solo to a dramatic rendition of "Danny Boy" — and perhaps his "We Are the World" celebrity impersonation extravaganza as well.
No other male recording artist in the history of Hawaiian music has had one of his albums win a Na Hoku Hanohano Award for "Female Vocalist of the Year," either. Willie notched that seemingly impossible feat in 2000 when the Board of Governors of the Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts decided that "Nostalgia," the second album recorded by the duo of Amy Hanaiali’i & Willie K, should be defined as the work of a female vocalist even though the duo’s first album had been defined the work of a duo the year before.
He’s won plenty of other Hoku Awards before and after that, too.
Now he’s working on something even bigger and more time-consuming than a Hoku Award-winning album.
Where: Waikiki Aquarium, 277 Kalakaua Ave.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday; doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $30, $10 children ages 7 to 12, children under 7 free
Info: 550-8457 or www.honoluluboxoffice.com
Get ready, Honolulu, for Willie K’s 50th State Film, Music and Martial Arts Festival. It will open with a James Hong Hawaii Film Fair, supported by Nickolodeon and DreamWorks, and a concert featuring Willie and a Barefoot Natives reunion at the Hawaii Theatre Aug. 20. The next day, Willie K hosts a martial arts tournament at the Pagoda Hotel.
Proceeds will benefit the Hawai’i Lupus Foundation, Kick Start Karate-Hawaii and the Hawaii Youth Symphony.
"I’m going to raise them that money one way or the other. That is one of my huge goals, to make that happen for them," Willie said, calling from Maui June 30.
BEFORE he jumps headlong into preparations for his big August event, Willie will be on Oahu for a "Ke Kani o ke Kai" concert Thursday at the Waikiki Aquarium. His shows at the aquarium usually sell out in advance — so call now, Hawaii, and don’t expect to buy tickets at the door.
Showing up somewhere guitar in hand to entertain a sold-out crowd is a lot easier than organizing a festival, Willie said — but with the local economy still struggling, nonprofit groups and social service organizations need help more than ever.
"Everything is pretty much in order here (regarding the festival) … except for sponsorships," he said. "Coming in at such a very short amount of time, especially during — should I say it? — campaign season, everybody’s pretty strapped for helping out. … We’re still out there looking for people to help us get this set for the future."
One of the things he’s looking forward to is giving kids "from preschool ages up to 10 (or) 12 years old that watch a lot of Nickelodeon shows and a lot of feature animation movies" the opportunity to meet Hong, a veteran character actor who has enjoyed renewed popularity in recent years as the voice of cartoon characters (including Mr. Ping in "Kung Fu Panda") and video game figures.
Willie was introduced to Hong by a mutual friend. From there, the performer said, "it just blossomed" into the film, music and martial-arts festival plan.
"It’s a big (task) that I’m taking on, but I’m willing to move forward with it and — big or small — I’m going for it."
Disney Sports is partnering with Willie in holding a qualifying tournament for a Disney Martial Arts Festival at Disneyland next summer. He hopes to show Disney what Hawaii has to offer in "the name of sports, be it martial arts, baseball, even canoe racing."
Someday he’d like to see a navigational canoe race "from Hawaii to Tahiti and back … and we don’t use computers to go anywhere. Everything’s by the stars."
Willie says the Disney people told him it would make a great movie.
For information on Willie K’s 50th State Film, Music and Martial Arts Festival, call 722-5937, e-mail Debbie@williek.com or go to www.50thstatefestival.com.