Gotta Have Faith: A Singer’s Journey


Shea Brown

Faith Rivera stands in front of a wall with canvases of her album covers. Citing musical legends like Prince and George Micheal as her inspiration, Rivera released her first album in 1997 and continues to produce music today.

Shea Brown, Profile

Faith Rivera belts out a final note before looking to the audience as the music slowly ends.  The crowd is silent for a moment, then responds with deafening applause.  

Raised in Oahu, she began singing in churches and talent shows in high school. Rivera has grown exponentially since then, singing around the world from Australia to Italy.

“I went to Japan to sing at a peace festival there, and it was so cool because they couldn’t understand, most people in Japan don’t speak English, but they were dancing on the stage with me,” Rivera reflects.  “The way it brings people together, like the community, it’s indescribable.”

As “blissful” as her career is, a career where you’re being constantly “judged” has provided many challenges for Rivera.

“I tried to quit multiple times,” Rivera says.   It’s like I wanted to do it, but I was so scared of it.”

 Rivera pushed through, winning an Emmy in 2003 for outstanding original song and a Grammy nomination for best global music in 2022.  She’s earned chances to collaborate with many composers like Daniel Ho, a six-time Grammy winner, and had her songs played by the Honolulu Symphony.

“Her attitude and her sense of optimism for everything is always inspiring,” her son Kai Rivera-Hee states.

As Rivera evolved, so did her music.

“She wanted to sing the popular things,” Rivera’s husband Nolan Hee remembered.  “But she found her spirituality.  She started moving away from being as popular as she could to being the most meaningful she could.”

Rivera hopes to continue writing and singing songs for many years to come.

“I love the feeling on stage,” Rivera said with a smile.  “When I’m on stage, I have every reason just to be free and to express myself.   You’re just in the moment, being who you are, connecting with people on a real level.”