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Soul Sister Paula Fuga and friends at Stella Blues this weekend!

July 30, 2010 - Trisha Smith

Island songbird takes a break from a national tour with Jack Johnson to grace Maui with her delightful spirit and angelic voice.

There’s just something about Paula Fuga…

Her voice is undoubtedly exceptional and comforting—like a warm blanket you just want to wrap around you on a front porch swing as you relax among friends and family. 

And, her “person” is even more lovely.

The first time I had the pleasure of meeting Paula, she came right up and gave me a big hug after a mutual friend introduced us outside of a venue she had just played at on the West Side. Paula then turned to her frequent stage accomplice, the unbelievably talented guitarist Mike Love, and said, “Trish, this is Mike Love—my musical soul mate.”

At that moment, I remember her glowing smile revealed a charming, childlike enthusiasm that was reminiscent of the expression I wore as a young girl when my parents told me we were going to Cedar Point amusement park, or when my father handed me a musty cardboard box full of vinyl from my grandmother’s attic.

A joy so real, so honest, so beautiful—so Paula.

Hawai‘i has been blessed with the opportunity to experience the evolution of this organic talent, and over the last few years, she has made her mark as an island icon. Her 2006 album, Lilikoi (Pakipika), earned her the Nä Hökü for “Most Promising Artist” in 2007, and is a record that will forever remain an essential in my collection.

She has graced the stage of a variety of venues—big, small, grassy knolls—you name it. She even headed to New Zealand this year as part of the Mana Maoli Collective to play at the world music fest, Pasifika, and now she’s touring the Mainland with mainstream’s surf-soul singer/songwriter, Jack Johnson, and funky Philly boy, G-Love. (Paula—and everyone who has ever listened to his music—is hoping G will bring his “Special Sauce” to the Isles soon as well… stayed tuned!)

Johnson’s last two albums each include a Paula track, including the addictive gem, "Country Road," which has gained world-famous respect for its natural charm and honest songwriting. Johnson’s latest album, To the Sea, is comfortable on the charts, resting on Billboard’s Top 40 at No. 4. as of last week.

Paula’s currently “having an amazing time” riding around the country in eco-friendly green buses and playing big venues, and said she’s looking forward to the latest release from Hawai‘i outfit she’s a part of called Dubconscious, which the mixing was just finished for.

Besides the fact that when she opens her mouth my heart and soul melt with joy, the singer/musician Paula is also so appealing because she’s a “real” person.

I talked to her via phone last weekend before a tour show in Wisconsin, and the first thing she said as she answered her phone was,” Hey, Trish—can I call you back? I lost one of my slippers while driving this golf cart around and it’s the only pair I brought. I gotta go retrace my steps. Uggghhh! I gotta go find it. Bye.”

I didn’t know whether to giggle or be disappointed that my interview with a performer I admired so much had the potential to not take place.

I giggled…

She called me back within 15 minutes, with a jolt in her voice and a sigh of relief. “I found it. Whew. Okay, so howzit going back there in the Islands?”

We chatted for about an hour, and when I brought up Maui, I could hear the excitement ride in her voice.

“I love Maui—everyone is loving and good to me every time I come there,” she said.

She talked about “real Aloha” and how “there’s just something about Maui” that makes her feel at home.

“If I could start my life over, I would want to be born and raised there,” she added.

There is no doubt in my mind that this humble talent is about to be whisked away to stardom, as more and more of the world has the privilege to experience her. And, there is also no doubt in my mind that Hawai‘i will always remain her home, and that she will always just be Paula.

“I can’t wait to play with him (Mike Love) next weekend,” said Paula. “He’s been working on his own album, and the new songs are no doubt great.”

When Mike and Paula are onstage, there’s just this natural thing that takes over, and your eyes, ears, heart and soul become pleasantly numb with love for the true splendor of talent, and you take a moment to remember why the essence of music is so important to your vitality. Well, at least that’s the way I feel…

“What matters is that he’s a good person, on and off the stage, and it’s just a bonus that he’s a musical genius,” said Paula.

Come out and appreciate this special soul in her rawest form, slippers off—not lost—with her ‘ukulele in hand, smile across her face, and “real Aloha” exuding from her presence.

Don’t miss Sista Paula Fuga this Saturday, July 31, for Stella Blues Supper Club for an incredible night of music, love and the Hawaiian spirit. Dinner seating at 6 p.m., with show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Phenomenal guitarist, Mike Love, and the always-brilliant bassist, Hutch Hutchinson, will join her and from my experiences in the intimate and sweet sound-ready backroom at Stella’s, this is going to be a musical moment I will hold dear to my heart forever.

Call 874-3779 to reserve your place for this memorable and intimate evening. Visit


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Blog Photos

Paula Fuga and Mike Love at a music benefit at Mulligan's last year for the wonderful Marla Johnson. Photo: Jessica Pearl