Born and raised in the 50s in the sleepy little town of Kailua, on the island of Oahu, in Hawaii, Betsy was lucky from the get-go. She learned to dance the hula in her small-kid days in the breezy backyard studio of Mrs. Beamer (family to Keola and Kapono), soaking up an enduring love for the beauty of the hula and the enchanting melodies of Charles King, Alex Anderson, Queen Liliuo’kalani, Princess Likelike, King Kalakaua, Johnny Noble, Eliza Holt, Harry Owens, and friends and neighbors, Don McDiarmid and Irmgard Aluli, (who would later write a song for her in Japanese!).
At home, she would practice dancing and singing to her scratchy records on the RCA, mesmerized by the sounds of people like Mahi Beamer, Auntie Genoa Keawe, The Kahuanu Lake Trio, and Alfred Apaka.
As a schoolgirl at St. Anthony’s, she was lucky to have Ms. Hedwig Von Trapp (of the Trapp Family, immortalized in The Sound of Music) as her music teacher and mentor. Miss Trapp introduced her to the powerful, magical music of the medieval Latin Mass, the Gregorian Chant, Mozart, Bach, and Praetorius. Through Ms. Trapp, Betsy found her own voice, and soon began singing everyday, all the time, with a passion that hasn’t ended.
At home at that time, her older sisters and brother were listening to The Surfers, The Beach Boys, Johnny Mathis, Barbara Streisand, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Joan Baez, Morganna King, Henry Mancini, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Mitch Miller, The Four Lads, The Four Freshman, Joe and Eddie, and every major musical of the day : West Side Story, Carousel, My Fair Lady – chop sui! Betsy absorbed everything like a sponge, memorizing all of it, note for note.
In high school, she had the good fortune to be introduced to the music – and some of the members- of such groups as Olomana, Gabby Pahinui, The Sons of Makaha, and the Cazimeros in the Peter Moon Band. She continued studying hula under the watchful yardstick of Bella Richards in Kailua, and performed regularly throughout Waikiki in Polynesian shows. At home, she was listening to the sounds of Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Chicago.
At Kailua High School, she lucked out again when she met friend and singing partner Chris Rolseth, and joined the Kailua High School Madrigals under the direction of Mr. Shigeru Hotoke, and went on tour to Japan one summer, singing madrigals and Hawaiian songs, and dancing Hula, Tahitian and Maori, and returned with a recording contract to sing folk music from Denon Columbia Japan!
” Betsy and Chris” produced their first golden hit “Shiroi Iro Wa Koi Bito No Iro”, written by Kazuhiko Kato, in 1970, and they spent the next five years recording, touring, and promoting in Japan as major recording stars. During that time they appeared and performed on TV, radio and stage with such stars as Don Ho,The Kingston Trio,The Osmond Brothers,the Everly Brothers, The Carpenters and Jose Feliciano from America,and Mori Shinichi, Takamiyama, Akebono, The Blue Comets, Pinky and the Killers, Peter, Hide and Rosanna, Hiromi Go, Hiroshi Asada, Moriyama Ryoko, Billie Ban-Ban, and many others in Japan – lucky girls!
Betsy later spent some time on the island of Molokai, and fell in love with the place, the music and the people there: Abe and Ann Dudoit of The Molokai Trio, George Helm, and the classic, back-yard revelry of the Pau Hana Inn and The Hotel Molokai.
In her 20′s on the Big Island of Hawaii,in between stints as a fisherwoman (while living in Milol’ii, she became friends with the great Diana Aki, a neighbor there), waitress, florist, coffee-farmer, tax-preparer, and mommy, she sang for four years at the famous Kona Village Resort with Clem Low and Bobby Madrona, producing one album, “The Clem Low Trio.” She was also a member of Waimea’s own Johnny Spencer’s girl trio “Honey” who produced an Hawaiian album of Johnny’s original songs, including “Waika”, in the 80s, called “Honey”. Betsy was also a vocalist with Spencer’s big band, “Slack Sax”, which is where she was introduced to the sounds of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, the Gershwins, and the like, and boy, did she like ‘em!
Jazz standards seemed to suit her fine, so she began listening to everything she could find: Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, Billie Holiday, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra…and got lucky again with her long-term gig as a member of The Bill Noble Trio at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, on the beautiful Kohala Coast, on the Big Island. They have a CD of jazz standards, “The Bill Noble Trio”.
Betsy has recently produced two other CDs: ” Betsy 2000″, an extended- play CD, of mostly contemporary Japanese tunes, including her original ballad, “Kiss”, in Japanese, and her latest offering, “Betsy’s Christmas”. She’s currently working on a compilation, and a new Hawaiian album of all her small-kid-time favorites. Next, with luck, it will be bossa-nova!
Her most current release, “Betsy’s Christmas” is a nostalgic return to the romance and magic of Christmas, and introduces the beautiful new Christmas ballad, “Peace On Earth, Goodwill To All.”