Here are some answers to questions I have been asked…
What inspires you?
I am inspired by a full moon in a silvery sky …
The bright twinkling eyes of a child
The laughter of a loved one
The scent of new blossoms
A tall tree, A still lake
Music laden air pulsating with rhythm
Dancing, Laughing, Loving
Books that awaken sleeping aspects of my soul
The wind in my hair
The gathering of loved ones
Agape: the community and the mission
Burning light of a sunlit morning
Sunset on the Hawaiian shore
Beauty, Love, Life
When did you start singing?
Actually, I started singing in May of 2006. I remember it well, because it was literally by accident.
At that time, my partner Bob Baker was the music director for The Soul-Esteem center, a local new-thought community that was hosting an event with James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophecy. He was coming to town for the world premier of the movie version of the book.
The organizers asked Bob to create an original song for the event, and some weeks prior he had written a song called Synchronicity. He had planned to sing the song as a duet with a local singer, Deborah Sharn. But a few days before the event, Bob fell while roller skating and broke a rib. He was in so much pain that he could not even draw enough breath to sing. So I offered to sing his part, since I had heard him sing it many times over the previous few weeks.
The place was packed for the event and I was very nervous. I had been in front of audiences many times as a dancer, but never as a singer. As soon as the song was over, I ran into the lobby and laughed for probably 10 minutes—releasing all my nervous energy.
Before the end of the evening, people came up and asked where they could catch my next performance. I was pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback, so I began to sing more and more. I would sing occasionally with Bob when he was the musical inspiration for a Sunday morning service. Since then, Bob and I have become quite a duo, as well as the directors of the Gateway to Agape Choir.
When was the Gateway to Agape Choir formed and when did you become its leader?
In 2008, I was going through a time in my life when I was asking the deeper question of how I could serve my community in a greater way. I knew there were gifts within me that were meant to be given, but I did not have a clear way in which to share them.
People have always been attracted to me and my energy, but when they would show up in my life, I didn’t quite know what to do. So I began asking the universe to reveal my gift to me and to do it in a way that I would easily understand. I felt like I had been on this quest for quite a while. I was open to anything, so I made the commitment to say “yes” to whatever it was.
I began to become aware of inspired ideas and I began implementing them. I found myself being more and more attracted to music, and after a chain of events I found myself on a plane headed for Los Angeles to attend Agape’s Music Symposium. I had only been to Agape once before for a Sunday service in June that year and knew of Michael Beckwith from the movie The Secret.
While attending Agape, I had a profound experience and felt a deep spiritual connection with Michael and his wife, Rickie Byars Beckwith, and the Agape community. Little did I know the chain of events that would follow. I had traveled to Los Angeles alone to attend the music symposium and before long I found beautiful souls to share in my journey. I was instantly embraced and fell deeply in love with all that is Agape.
After spending a couple of days immersed in this love stream, I began to have this thought, “How can I bring this experience home?” It was then that an inspired idea came and I found myself asking Michael if I could start an Agape choir in St. Louis. I joyfully received his blessing and I was dancing on clouds all the way home. Once home, I began to organize a beautiful expression of music which is known today as the Gateway to Agape Choir, of which I am the founder and choir director.
Have you had any formal training?
As far as formal training in music, I did not have any.
When I began the choir, I did not read music, I did not play a musical instrument and I only sang with Bob every couple of months, nothing with any regularity. I felt that I needed something to assist me in leading a group of people in music, so I did two things. One, I bought some books from Amazon on how to direct a choir, which I quickly determined was not for me. I just could not relate to what they were saying and it all seemed so technical.
The second thing I did was find a voice teacher to help me with my singing so that I could share what I was learning with the choir members. I remember my first lesson. I was so excited. I felt like a kid on the first day of school waiting for the bus to come. When I arrived at my lesson, I filled out my paperwork and prepared to sing. I sang a song that I felt confident on and personally loved.
After the first few bars the instructor asked me to stop. I smiled slightly and waited for her comment. Much to my surprise and horror, she told me that “No one wants to hear a sound like that come out of anyone’s mouth” and “If anyone had ever told you that you could sing, they were lying to you.”
In that moment, the world stood still and silent. In my mind I thought, “How could this be?” I felt called to this choir—somewhat of a divine destiny—and the thought of the choir filled my heart with immense joy. How could this be happening?
She said she was not even sure if I was worth her time since she did not think there was any hope for me. She more or less intimated that she did not want to take my money. Oddly enough, I did return to her for one more lesson, thinking she could help me with my breathing. But she did not like my voice and it became an obstacle for her when instructing me.
I paid $120 for those two sessions, but I have often looked back and thought that was the best money I ever spent. I walked away with a greater commitment to what I believe was my calling. There was a time in my life, five years earlier, when that experience would have crushed me and stopped me from moving forward. But I really did feel that I was being called to serve my community through the voice of this choir. I felt that I was on divine appointment and—even if this teacher didn’t think I could sing—I was answering a higher calling on my life.
I feel that the choir is inspired and that everything that is needed is already provided for. I now graciously receive many glowing compliments on my singing. I have to admit I have come a long way since those days in 2008. The choir has really inspired me to become a better singer.
I share this story whenever someone tells me they can’t sing. I say, “Oh Yeah? I have been told by the best of them that I can’t sing. Do you think I let that stop me from singing?” Singing has opened my heart to a whole new way of expressing my joy!
Will you tell me a bit about your background?
I come from a long line of Hawaiian entertainers and have been dancing on stage since I was 18 months old. I have loved the stage from a very early age and I always felt much love and adoration from the audience. When I began to raise a family, I stepped out of the limelight and settled down in Missouri. I continued to share my heritage with my children, doing family shows in the backyard for picnics and luaus. I have four amazing children: Kamakea, 31; Courtney, 27; Matthew, 25; and Andrew, 24. Matt and Andy play with the Gateway to Agape Choir when they aren’t busy working on their own musical projects.
Any significant life challenges or learning experiences?
There have been many, many challenges in my life. I think many people would be surprised to find that there were many years when my life was not always so happy-go-lucky. I also know that I am not alone in my experience. What may be a little different is how I view challenges.
I think of life challenges as opportunities to grow. Every challenge has within it a gift. As I move through the experience, I learn so much. Many times I feel that as I am moving through what some may call difficult times, I am on a journey of discovery. I am revealing to myself insights that will aid me as I unfold to a greater yet to be. I welcome challenges because they allow me to participate in my own personal evolution. As I move through each experience, I emerge stronger and more capable of expanding my life in ways never before imagined.
I have also learned to trust that all things are working together for my good—that no matter what happens to me, it is all a part of my divine destiny. When I approach each event with this knowing, I immediately begin to look for the good in the situation. This allows me to focus my attention on the good in my life, and when I do that, only more good can show up. It is the law of attraction and it is a law that greatly benefits my life.