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Honolulu, Hawaii, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Honolulu, Hawaii, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo R&B Singer/Songwriter




"Introducing Hawaii's rising young R&B singers and songwriters"

For many years, the Hawaii music industry and local radio stations have highlighted three familiar genres of music: Hawaiian, reggae and the catchy Island-blend known as Jawaiian. But, thanks to rising stars Izik Moreno, DeAndre Brackensick, Lina Robins-Tamure and Keilana Mokulehua, the musical landscape has a new sound to celebrate.

Though each is an artist in their own right, they collectively call themselves Brunch—a supportive circle of creative friends with a passion for songwriting and soulful R&B, who are often seen at each other’s gigs. “We aren’t breakfast, and we aren’t lunch, we’re that sassy in between,” Mokulehua explains. “We’re a family who’s there to motivate and push each other, but there’s no competition.”

Whether they are performing at restaurants throughout Oahu or filling seats at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre and Blue Note Hawaii, they are becoming noted fixtures on the local music scene, showing their support and even lending their talents to each other onstage.

Keilana Mokulehua: The Songbird
Photo: Aaron Yoshino
With music running through her veins, singer-songwriter Keilana Mokulehua was destined to perform, thanks to the inspiration of her father and paternal grandfather. When her grandfather passed in 2004, she found herself yearning for that connection. “It changed something for me,” she says. “It disconnected me from my Hawaiian side, so I picked up the guitar and started to sing as a way to get closer to him.”

Fate introduced her to Robins-Tamure in high school, where the two aspiring singers began their musical studies in concert glee. They formed an instant connection and started singing together both in the classroom and out. “We have so many videos of us sitting in the breezeway of our high school singing together; some are still up on YouTube,” she says with a laugh.

Her parents’ affection for ’90s R&B captivated Mokulehua, who cites Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Aaliyah as some of her biggest influences. Though she began songwriting at an early age, she has made new strides in her writing with support from Brunch friends. “I’m a more reserved person, so letting myself be vulnerable to the public is something I’m still timid about. My friends have really helped me to open up in my music and onstage in performances.”

Now in college, Mokulehua attends classes focused on expanding her knowledge of business and music, while performing three to five nights a week at local venues like Highway Inn, Tommy Bahama and The Study. Hawaii can expect big things from this ambitious songstress in the years to come.,, - Jade K. Snow of Hawaii Magazine


Travelers can get the quintessential Hawaiian experience at the House Without a Key restaurant in the Halekulani Hotel. Seemingly every evening, the sun sets redder than a postcard, and the wine is divine, as is the lau lau chicken. Meanwhile, uke-pickers croon out a rendition of “Over the Rainbow” while a former Miss Hawaii hulas under the century-old kiawe tree. This is exactly what most come to paradise for.

But if you don’t want to be most, you might head a half-mile down the Waikiki streets to the Laylow Hotel, where a different soundtrack is on the menu. Opened last March, the Marriott property regularly plays host to singer-songwriters and R&B artists. It’s not the only fresh venue to risk a shift in the set list. An ornate downtown shopping mall that reopened after renovations in mid-2016, the International Marketplace, has four or five hangouts playing live music nightly. The acts? Mostly upbeat pop and soul, the types once rarely booked on an island dominated by the tunes of reggae, island folk music and Jawaiian — the sex-on-the-beach love child of the former two.


In fact, Hawaii has grown an appetite for the rhythm and blues. “It’s just been over the last year and a half,” says Jenn Wright, a 38-year-old musician affectionately called “Mom” by many rising R&Bers — many of whom she books gigs for and manages, formally or not. “Now, it’s more of a movement. Most venues, when they call and are looking for music, this is what they are looking for. It’s so refreshing. It’s a total turnaround.” As Izik Moreno, a 30-year-old musician bred on Mariah Carey and Aaliyah while raised by his grandma on the island of Molokai, says: “The smaller boutique hotels are looking for something a little different … they are trying to appeal to younger crowds.”

Hawaii has long had talent. Still, it’s often been muted by an island culture that stymied new voices while encouraging classical music and popular covers that were sure to sate tourists. That’s kept reggae on the airwaves, but the narrow market has forced folks with innovative tastes to pack their bags for the contiguous states (think Bruno Mars, who was born and raised in Honolulu but relocated to Los Angeles for his career). With only a few radio stations willing to branch out from the Hawaiian norm even today — just “college stations and NPR,” says 23-year-old singer-songwriter Keilana Mokulehua, and a few Top 40 stations — most locals traditionally haven’t heard much R&B playing across the airwaves. Unless they are headed across the Pacific anyway, many major artists skip Hawaii because of the prohibitive cost of flying their touring acts to the islands, which makes it difficult for young pop aspirers to imagine themselves in the spotlight.

Izik Moreno


Yet those challenges are slowly receding, thanks to a combination of technology, talent and tact. Moreno says the increased popularity of “live looping” technology, which allows solo artists to create a fuller sound closer to that of a full band, has opened more doors for R&B acts. Both in Hawaii and on the mainland, music lovers have shifted their listening habits from the radio to streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. “It opened the local population to other types of music,” Mokulehua says, and video platforms like YouTube and Facebook have transformed word-of-mouth promotion. As people become more familiar with the genre, they want to hear it everywhere, from their backyard barbecue to backroom bars.

State leaders have also begun to address the scarcity of big acts. The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has launched music immersion programs to nurture local talent, partnering with others to send Hawaiian musicians like Moreno to pop-up events everywhere, from California and New York to Australia and New Zealand. They’re working with trendy venues such as the Republik to import top names — upcoming shows include singer Jhene Aiko, popular alternative R&B artist SZA and Grammy nominee Kehlani.

But today’s rise of R&B in Hawaii may not have been possible without artists like Wright, who gutted it out during the lean years, often turning down paying gigs as a singer and percussionist for the acoustic duet Simple Souls. “Management would say, ‘You have to do something Hawaiian, or contemporary island,’” she remembers, but they would refuse. “By standing our ground and keeping who we are, eventually it’s withstood the test of time.”

Now Wright works with island musicians, including Mokulehua and Moreno, former Oprah Winfrey guest Lina Robins-Tamure and American Idol finalist DeAndre Brackensick, to ensure soul lives on. The five artists are supportive, cheering their friends on, often appearing as backup singers for each other in live shows or music videos. There are still difficulties: Despite often being asked to open shows, “to be the headliner, you have to be island-reggae,” Wright says. And while “everyone loves a good cover,” adds Moreno, original music remains a harder pitch to venues. Still, business has been booming, Wright says: “Now, everybody is so busy that all my kids are too busy — so I have to scout out for new guys to cover the scene.”

After watching a YouTube video, the group affectionately started calling themselves “the Brunch.” “I just don’t want to wake up that early, but I still want breakfast … and I want a mimosa in the morning,” Wright says. “It represents that mindset of ‘I’m going to just do what I want, when I want.’ There are no rules.” Just like brunch, their music lives in what Mokulehua describes as “the sassy in-between” — a refreshing and welcome addition to the sometimes schmaltzy islands of Aloha. - Nick Fouriezos

"Singer-songwriter Keilana illuminates Honolulu’s live music scene"

If you haven’t already heard Keilana Mokelehua, the rising singer-songwriter is quickly becoming a prominent staple in the local music scene. Read more... - Maria Hartfield, Special to the Star-Advertiser


Cotton Candy Feelings

  • Released: 2019
  • Format: Single 
  • Label: Zeo Music (2019)
  • Producer: Keilana Mokulehua, Imua Garza



Keilana Mokulehua known by her stage name, KEILANA is a Honolulu, HI based artist. Keilana is widely known for her Top 40 acoustic renditions and her "one-woman band" looping capabilities and her sultry-sweet tone. 

Claimed as one of Hawaii's rising young R&B singers and songwriters, she has been actively promoting her music throughout Hawaii since 2012. She performs weekly for various hotspots on Oahu, is a highly-sought out session vocalist and musician, and is currently working on her debut album set to release in the Summer of 2020. 

Her earliest claims of success stemmed from viral Youtube covers at the age of 15. Her Youtube presence and skills garnered her success locally and led to Keilana claiming success in multiple singing competitions. A strong believer in education, she went on to become a graduate of The University of Hawaii with a Bachelor of Arts in Music (2016). While stepping into the position of a full-time musician, she concurrently attended Honolulu Community College's Music Entertainment and Business Program (2018). 

Her most recent accomplishment was becoming a finalist for The State of Hawaii's Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism "Creative Lab Hawaii's Immersive" Program-- An exclusive intensive program that helps songwriters write and sync songs on nationally viewed television. She has landed multiple syncs since the program and has become a spokesperson for the initiative. 

Keilana aspires to bridge the gap between Hawaii and music throughout the US / Pacific. She strongly believes in the importance of music education and the arts, thus regularly serves as a guest speaker at educational institutions, growing her voice and striving to make an impact on the community.

Band Members