Â In researching the Mai-Kai’s history, I come across a lot of things that I am not sure will ever make it into a book, or a lecture or anywhere besides me and my wife. This weekend, with spare time due to the holidays, I did some digging. I have an October/NovemberÂ 1965 “Happy Talk”, a news magazine published by the Mai-Kai, and it is full of great stuff. The cover announces that Mariterangi will begin performing in the Molokai soon. I had not heard that name come up before, so I searched for the story ofÂ her life. There is not much.
There is a ton of her music online. I found Dub DJs with her in their list of music to mix. She, like many of the performers at the Mai-Kai, was from Tahiti, born in 1926. TheÂ fast tempo of the Tahitian drums is a draw for creating a live showÂ I am sure. Toti was the leadÂ there. Mireille was the choreographer and dancer from Tahiti.Â They likelyÂ knew of Marie and when she landed on the mainland of the US, they worked to recruit her. Marie came to the US via Hawaii, like many of the island performers, and created her own troupe. She started at the Bora Bora in San Francisco in 1960. That location became a Skipper Kent’s in the late 60’s after the owner was shot by his wife. Few even knew it was ever anything else. It stayed a Skipper’s into theÂ 80s.
There were local island natives who would come to the Mai-Kai and as the evening came around, they got out their guitars and began to play and sing the songs of their homelands. It was simply a natural thing and it was enjoyed by the snowbirdsÂ as well. TheÂ Mai-Kai recognized the beauty of it andÂ made this a standard practice there. Marie may have been the first formal player in the Molokai.
Sadly, Marie passed away of cancer in 1971. She was honored in her homeland, along with her sister Emma with a stamp. Her music lives on forever. Her voice is so full of emotion. If you can find her “Tahiti Nui”, it is a classic.
And today, the tradition lives on. It may be Mua and his guitar or any number of other musicians playing in the Molokai. Singing the songs of the islands…
One Reply to “Marie Mariterangi sings in the Molokai 1965”
Interesting…. I worked at the Mai-Kai from March 1979 to April 1984. Was a waiter there when we celebrated the 25th Anniversary 1981. The employee Christmas party that year was very special as the employees all pitched in and had a “Barrel of Rum” mug made of sterling silver for Bob Thorton and it was presented to him at the Christmas party that year…..
Also that year at the Christmas party a small handful of employees put on the “entertainment” (myself included sang Mr Bojangles in memory of an older gentleman who had died earlier in the year. He was Billy Cardova ( last name may be off a bit) who worked the front desk for many years…..)I was 22 years old back then….. I still hold the Mai-Kai dear and near to my heart. I got married there in 1991 and recently celebrated our 20th anniversary there with a great dinner and saw a few of the “lifers” who are still there today…….