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Ilona Irvine

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Biography

Irvine’s move into the forefront of the local music scene has been a long time coming, and she’s spent her life preparing for it. She grew up around music and started off singing in her church choir. Her father arranged for her to study singing with Melveen Leed, so she grew up around talented professionals like Leed, Loyal Garner and John Rowles.

Irvine later became affiliated with Loki Obrero Sasil and Malia Rosa Kahahawai, who, as the group Leahi, were former protegés of producer Matt Young. Sasil and Kahahawai had left Young’s organization and were trying to use the knowledge they’d gleaned to set up and run their own local independent record label. Irvine performed and recorded with Leahi, and the duo also released her first two solo albums on their label.

Eventually Irvine moved on up to Roni “H-Diggler” Yurong’s Hobo House on the Hill label, and became one of the new label’s first artists to hit the local music scene when her first album, “Princess,” was released in 1998. The album was a hit with Jawaiian/island music fans, but Irvine dropped off the radar afterward.

“I had my baby girl and I just felt like I had to get back to the basics. I got burned out really fast, and it was only through working with kids that I realized how hard we make life — life is simple, just follow the basics: Respect one another, respect life itself (and) everything will fall right in place.”

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