It was a Miss Hawaii pageant that made Melveen Leed realize her love for performing.
Representing Molokai, she sang Moon River as her talent. The crowd, she recalls, was in the thousands. But Leed didn’t feel nervous at all.
“From there, my hunger to perform skyrocketed,” she says.
Throughout the years, Leed cultivated her talent and established herself as a commanding presence in Hawaii’s entertainment industry. In a career that has spanned roughly 50 years, Leed has recorded 28 albums and received numerous Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, including its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
Leed still keeps very busy with her music career, performing locally and throughout the world. Just last year, she participated in an Aloha Concert at Carnegie Hall alongside other local entertainers. Standing there on stage, in a room so quiet you could hear a pin drop, is an experience Leed says she’ll remember for the rest of her life.
And most recently, Leed found herself back in the studio. “Before my vocal chords are unable to function, I am right now in the process of recording,” she says.
It was during one such session that Leed received a call from none other than Tom Moffatt. His proposition: to perform alongside Neil Sedaka.
“I thought he was kidding,” she says.
Moffatt was, in fact, very serious and this Saturday Leed will join Sedaka as his special guest for the evening at Blaisdell Concert Hall. This will be Leed’s first time meeting Sedaka, a musician she has listened to and admired since high school. And her fans, friends and family are looking forward to hearing the two perform oldies hits.
“We’re going down memory lane, that’s for sure,” she says.
To share a stage with someone like Sedaka would make most people nervous. He has, over the years, co-written more than 500 songs and sold millions of albums. But Leed has had years to perfect her talent, and sees herself only as an entertainer with a gift to share. Nerves, therefore, are not something she is prone to experience.
“You have to just do your best,” she says. “That’s it, and that’s all there is to it.” As an entertainer who has remained a staple in Hawaii’s industry for many years, she certainly has seen Hawaii’s musical landscape evolve. In each generation, Leed has enjoyed seeing the creation of distinct sounds.
And, as a teacher of her craft for nearly 40 years, Leed’s up-close look at up-and-coming talent has proven promising.
“I’m so thrilled that Hawaii has a lot of talent,” she says. “I just enhance it, that’s all I do. They have it already.”
In her spare time, Leed may be found in her garden. It’s a passion she seems to have picked up from her grandparents, who Leed recalls as having green thumbs and beautiful plants and flowers.
She also involves herself in community-related projects. It is, Leed points out, common for entertainers to do such things, and she sees it as a natural necessity to life.
“I do it because God gave us this gift and we must share it to give back — our voices, our talents, our time, our energy and our hearts,” she says.