ALOHA NUI TO OUR KUMU, OUR BROTHER, OUR FRIEND.
Visitation and Service will be held for O’Brian Eselu this Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at the Kalihi Stake Center at 1723 Beckley Street. Visitation will be on Friday from 5-9pm and on Saturday from 8:30-10:30am. Service will be on Saturday from 11-12noon. The burial to follow is a private family burial.
O’Brian Eselu was born to Ta’avili Savai’i Eselu and Penifea Afoa-Lutu Ta’afulisia and was raised in Halawa, O’ahu. He is survived by his brothers, Ipulasi, Raymond and Bruce; his sister Fern Pele; and his hanai brother Jim Mcknight. At an early age, his family fostered his love for music, and his love continued to grow and flourish through the years. Many wonderful musicians and hula exponents influenced him and his artistic work, and he eventually became a mentor to many young talents who came into his life. O’Brian always expressed his gratitude and appreciation to those who guided him and most especially to his Heavenly Father. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he was the director of the church choir and taught songs and dances for church programs and events. Prayer was important to him and it was integrated intimately within his daily life and practice.
He is a graduate of Aiea High School and was a member of the Aiea Swinging Singers. He was also the Entertainment Director of the Paradise Cove Luau and through his work at Paradise Cove, he developed the “We Are Samoa” program now administered by the Polynesian Cultural Center. O’Brian also volunteered with various organizations and was a valuable cultural resource for the people in his community. O’Brian was also a 1998 Na Hoku Hanohano award winner and has three CDs to his credit, “Ke Kumu”, “Maka” and “Aloha E” under Hiko No Records.
His love for hula grew when he teamed up with his long time friend Thaddius Wilson. Together, they started the group Na Wai Eha O Puna under the guidance of Aunty Verna Wilson and her mother, Grandma Keoho. After it’s closing, O’Brian went on to form his personal halau, Ke Kai O Kahiki, which has its home at Lanikuhonua. There, he taught the men of his halau as well as his special aunties whom he affectionately called, “my aunties.” Ke Kai O Kahiki continues today under the direction of La’akea Perry. His hula legacy also continues within the halau of two of his students, Tracie Farias Lopes (Ka La Onohi Mai O Haehae) and Brandon Iliahi Paredes (Halau Kekuaokalaaualailiahi). Over 30 years of hula and even more years of music, O’Brian will be missed but his legacy lives on through his loving family, his students and aunties of hula and many colleagues and friends. Aloha e!