Aspiring musicians at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College have a new student scholarship thanks to a small act of kindness by a Hawaiʻi music legend nearly 40 years ago. That’s when Dr. Laurel Lee Roberts, then a college student herself, sat on the beach outside the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, to hear the beautiful operatic range of Emma Veary.

“Ms. Veary would tell her paying audience that the next song was for ‘friends on the shelf’ or for her ‘scholarship friends’,” said Dr. Roberts. “She would then turn and sing to her fans on the beach who could not afford to buy a ticket to a Waikiki concert.”

While decades have passed, those memories are still strong for Dr. Roberts who is now an attorney in Southern California.


Photo caption L-r: Dr. Laurel Roberts, Robyn Kneubuhl (Emma’s Daughter), Emma Veary

“I wanted to show my deepest appreciation to Ms. Veary for my fond memories through this named scholarship, and give opportunities to Maui youth to create even more beautiful music for future generations,” added Roberts.

Dr. Roberts started the scholarship, and others are joining her with their contributions to support UHMC students who have demonstrated excellence and potential in music.

For the academic year starting in Fall 2014 two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to UHMC students who have demonstrated excellence and potential in music.

“We are delighted to have a new student scholarship for music,” said Dr. Robert Wehrman, UHMC Music Department chair. “We are very grateful for the Emma Veary Music Scholarship, which will support Maui students in their musical aspirations and also highlight a great singer of Hawaiʻi.”

Honolulu-born Emma Veary studied opera in New York City, toured in Broadway shows, and performed throughout the world. As a headliner at top Waikiki hotels, she became known as the “Golden Voice of Hawaiʻi”. She has many best-selling albums with a repertoire that has ranged from opera to classics like “Kamehameha Waltz”.  In 2006 Ms. Veary was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame, and she has also received the Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Veary is now retired on Maui, and on occasion will sing with her daughter, a jazz singer and songwriter/composer.

“Emma Veary is an icon in the history of music in Hawaiʻi,” added Dr. Keola Donaghy, UHMC Music Department faculty member and coordinator of the Institute of Hawaiian Music.  “She has a music fan base that is truly global.”

Help us make music

Make a secure, tax-deductible gift online.

You can also contact:

Ray Tsuchiyam

Ray Tsuchiyama
UHMC Director of Institutional Advancement
Phone: (808) 984-3471