Lady Reiko commands attention. Stage presence, powerful vocals and a message of Aloha runs through her blood. She dedicates her energy to changing the world through music.
Niece of Jerome and John Koko, of the legendary Makaha Sons of Niihau, Reiko Inano has amazed audiences with her soulful voice since she was just 3 years old. While other kids her age were playing tag, Lady Reiko absorbed the musical stylings flowing through her garage from her iconic uncles and musical legends such as Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. Her relatives critiqued her music and pushed her to realize her talent.
A trip to Vegas to visit a friend soon took her from amateur singer to recording artist. While visiting, Lady Reiko displayed her vocals singing karaoke. A producer took notice, and ButtaPhunk International, an indie record company based in Vegas, soon signed the then 23-year-old starlet to a three-year contract.
Singing hip-hop and R&B tunes, Lady Reiko sought to fulfill a deeper purpose. Her island roots craved attention.
“[Singing R&B and hip-hop] was fun, and it was great. It taught me a lot of different things, but it didn't get with who I am as a person,” Lady Reiko said.
While working retail, a friend introduced Lady Reiko to Liquid Roots, a reggae cover band. She found what she longed for. Reggae music, unknown to Lady Reiko until then, proved to fill the void hip-hop and R&B couldn't realize.
“I sang with them one time, and it has been like magic ever since,” she said.
For the 7 years Liquid Roots and Lady Reiko have performed together, they have enthralled audiences and brought relocated islanders back home.
“When you come to our island reggae nights, you forget you're in Vegas. You feel like you're back in Hawaii, and that's something that we really take pride in.”
The band's success has carried it to places all over Vegas, taking on venues such as The House of Blues, Frontier Hotel, Tropics, Moondoggies and Club Tequila, to name a few. The band also doesn't miss the island festivals such as Pure Aloha, The Annual Ho'olaulea, the Kapena Jam and the Rebel Reggae Jam.
Despite the success of Liquid Roots, Lady Reiko still found time to create a solo project, Lady Reiko and the Party Hippie Revolution.
“I am on a personal mission to spread my original music, and I have a message that I want to convey about humanity and love and unity,” Lady Reiko explained.
Her desire to reach out stems from exploring the origins of reggae music.
“When I got into reggae music and started researching what's going on with the people in South Africa and all over the world, I realized how trapped in my bubble I was… People in Ethiopia are having to eat their own feces to survive, and here I am having my meals and being able to go to sleep with a full tummy,” Lady Reiko said.
Songs such as “Sinister Intentions” and “Lion in Zion” deliver a powerful message set to a danceable tune. These songs force listeners to evaluate the ways they can help eliminate the hardships many face, such as racism and poverty.
Lady Reiko and the Party Hippie Revolution will be touring with the Leathermouse Party from August 1 to 11, 2008, making their way from Portland, Oregon to San Diego, California. Hawaii fans can be on the lookout for the band in September and October.
Liquid Roots, from left to right: Mahi Wahinehookae, Kamu Kaumano, Lady Reiko, Mark Ritchie, Walter Kia, Kantaupio Willingham