Fairy tales do come true. Just ask Kevin I, the former Honolulu entertainer formally known as Kevin Iwamoto in the business community.
As a young performer eager to make his mark in the 1980s entertainment scene in Hawaii, he recorded a tune called “Fairy Tale,” a simple but powerful ballad that put him on the map, certifying his professional singing career.
That was then.
But now, in 2021, in the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, Kevin – as Kevin I, because that was his abbreviated show biz handle because he worried that some might not be able to properly pronounce his surname – has created unprecedented buzz in the second coming of his singing profile.
His “Fairy Tale” tune, part of a reissue of a virtual album released in December, 2020 and containing his smooth vocals, has become a belated phenom, surpassing 10,000 streams via the Vinyl Frontier Plus music channel on You Tube. And because this has been an online internet release, Kevin has reached an unimagined global audience that keeps growing.
“The songs are 30 years old,” he says. And yes, he cannot believe the delayed response to his past vocalizing. But back in the day, there was no internet. Regional troupers like Kevin depended on his domestic (Hawaii) audience for support. And radio airplay.
These days, YouTube music channel Vinyl Frontier Plus has 35K subscribers. The site also streams three other titles from his album, generating between 6.5K and 7.5K streams each, but the song that I initially doubted people would like has once again prevailed.
Yep, “Fairy Tale.” Minus the customary princess and prince template. Nor the usual show tour to support the product. The fans and the fuss are virtual.
Old is new again
Something old is new again. As a long-time friend and follower of his performing pursuits, I called this phase Kevin I 2.0. The second coming, yes, but curiously, much of the to-do has come from afar.
“Spotify numbers are over 1,000 listeners worldwide,” says Kevin. “Looking at my Spotify and Jango radio streaming data, such interesting cities where listeners streamed my music validates that music is truly universal. So far, I’ve seen Mongolia, Kuwait, Bosnia and Herzegovina, United Arab Emirates, S. Africa, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Montserrat, Malta, Curacao, Albania, Tanzania, Mozambique, Libya, Kenya, Montenegro, Bahrain, Belarus, Serbia, Tonga, Oman, and other exotic and faraway places.
“It’s kind of cool to think my old music is being streamed all over the world,” he says. All this without an olden-day distributor, thanks to the ease and swiftness of the internet.
The French connection
Andre Silva, a deejay in France, tracked down Kevin via Facebook and ordered up two copies of his last vinyl LP, “New Dimensions,” for himself and his cousin, who also happened to be a deejay, too. “They heard the music on YouTube and wanted to mix it for the French and Euro dance crowds,” says Kevin. Even belatedly, the Parisian power is formidable.
With exposure in France, Kevin says a guy named Guillaume and his brother also requested to purchase the same LP.
Since his sound was making the rounds, Facebook has licensed two tracks from “The Best of Kevin I. 1980-1985,” tapping “Let’s Give Love” and “Fairy Tale” for what is described as Promo Music Overlays.
Last February, Pandora released his album, resulting in more than 11,000 music streams from all over the country with a surprising other reaction: “Interest from Hawaii (is) surprisingly lower than the rest of the U.S.”
A feel-good love story
Then there’s a feel-good story from his Facebook feed, demonstrating the marvelous matchmaking momentum of his songs.
“Such an amazing thing happened,” he says. “I was contacted via social media by a young man who just proposed to his girlfriend who thanked me for my music which he used when he proposed.”
Kevin explains further: “Here’s how it went down, he cooked dinner for her then after dinner he played my song ‘Somewhere In My Lifetime’ and asked her to dance. He sang the lyrics of the song in her ear and when it was over, he played my song ‘True Love.’ When it was about to end, he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him and she said yes; they were both crying. His story frankly made me tear up.”
Surely, he says, “the power of love and music combined is such a perfect gift from God. The groom-to-be said when he first heard both songs, he was inspired to use them to propose because the lyrics, music and singing were a perfect reflection of their love and relationship.
He said that they’re also going to use ‘True Love’ as their first dance at their wedding reception next summer.”
The power of branding–and philanthropy
The whole incidence has touched him dearly. “(It’s) such an honor and (I’m) so touched that my songs from 30+ years ago moved a lovely young Midwest couple enough to be part of their engagement and nuptials next year. Music + love is such a wonderful blessing.”
Further, the good fortunes will result in good deeds. “Revenues generated by the digital album and streaming proceeds are going to be donated to designated charities via a charitable foundation I’m in the process of setting up which also includes my Kevin Iwamoto Scholarship Endowment set up under the UH School of Travel Industry Management,” says Kevin. As Chief Strategy Officer of BIZLY, Inc., he remains active and supportive of his training roots in the islands and the business community he continues to serve.
“My business career has afforded me the opportunity to live comfortably and dabble in charitable acts and philanthropy,” he adds. And the inspiration comes from a show biz buddy in Hawai’i and, a committed career fund-raiser. “I guess those years with Carole (Kai) rubbed off on me, LOL!”
Kevin also has learned a simple yet astonishing lesson in assessing his good fortune. “Trust your instincts and stand by your convictions and be who you have always been, authentic and honest. I teach and preach the power of personal branding.”…
And that’s “Show Biz.” …
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NOTE: Links to Kevin I’s websites: