Freestyle: Honolulu’s got soul

Apr. 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

Maryanne Ito. (Courtesy photo)

Maryanne Ito. (Courtesy photo)


Want to get in on something special? Join supporters of sweet soul music at an album preview party for talented Honolulu neo-soul artist Maryanne Ito at The Dragon Upstairs on April 17.

Maryanne Ito’s project with DJ Bennie James, a longtime Honolulu DJ and British ex-pat, is notable because James believes he can bring Ito’s voice and sound to international recognition. But it all starts right here.


Maryanne Ito Album Release Party

Presented by DJ Bennie James

» Where: The Dragon Upstairs, 1038 Nuuanu Ave.
» When: 6 to 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. April 17
» Cost: $20, includes pupu, limited-edition EP/album sampler
» Info: (808) 526-1411,

James, a local DJ with deep knowledge of soul music, fell in love with Ito’s voice a few years back and said he was “blown away” when he heard her music.

“I thought she was on a par with the people I play on my show,” he said. Coming from a DJ who plays “real old-school soul,” including James Brown, Motown greats and the likes of Stevie Wonder, and has been for more than 20 years, that is high praise. (Hear James each week on University of Hawaii-Manoa’s college radio station KTUH 90.3 FM, Tuesdays from 9 a.m. till noon.)

James eventually decided Ito’s music has enough potential to warrant working out a project with her, and he’s contributing his own experience in the international music business to the mix.

James is working with sound engineers and producers who are allied with Ito, including members of the Stone Groove Family, The Level, Slapp Symphony, RSL and Thirst4Worst, to get this album on the boards.

There are only 100 tickets available for two shifts of this soul-survival party, so if you get one, that makes you one of the honored few who will not only see Ito’s live performance, but receive a signed CD.

“Be a part of something very special and help change the life of a local artist,” said James. “Support this event and help real soul music grow right here in Hawaii. … This EP/album sampler will never be printed again, so don’t miss out!

The full album will be released via iIunes on June 5. For a little taste of the music, check out the short clip below.

MORE MUSIC: Honolulu reggae-fusion act Jookbox City has also launched a Kickstarter campaign. According to the band, some serious swag is at stake for humankind if they’re unable to generate enough public support.

I wrote about the band last year, when JookBox City debuted its “Wishing Well” video – check that out, and go to the Kickstarter page to see Jookbox City’s funny project video.
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at or follow her on Twitter.


No Comments

Comments are closed.