The season finale of “Showtime at the Apollo” airs Thursday night on KHON2, and one of the finalists is Hawaii native Matthew Hashimoto.
The Roosevelt High School graduate now lives in New York, where he works as a periodontist. We caught up with him to chat about his experience on the show.
Hashimoto first appeared on the April 4th episode of “Showtime,” and won the round after his rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” drew a standing ovation from the audience.
“It’s one of my all-time favorite songs. I can remember the first time I heard it. It just gave me chicken skin, and I wanted to know more about Etta James, the person that sang it,” he said. “It was a good song in the sense of it had a good beginning note, it had a good climax, and it had a good ending.”
Hashimoto tells us he started singing at school functions when he was a boy, inspired by artists like Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, and Kalapana. He went on to sing with bands while living in California, where he attended University of the Pacific, and New York.
He credits his family for his success, and tries to visit them in Honolulu a few times a year: “My family has been very supportive. They’ve always pushed me to do what I’m passionate about.”
Hashimoto is no stranger to the historic Harlem theater. He previously won “Amateur Night” at the Apollo in 2014.
“My experience from day one at the Apollo has always been really, really heart-warming. I don’t know a better way to put it. The people at the theater really make you feel like family,” he said.
Hashimoto says performing on the show was the experience of a lifetime, and he returns Thursday night for a chance to win a residency at the theater.
This time, he’ll be singing Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”
“Being able to perform on that stage, my palms are sweating, my throat is getting tight, and I’m as nervous as I’ve ever been in my life, just to be on that stage, and sing and perform for people, and get a very nice reaction is something I’ll never forget,” he said. “I would not trade it for anything in the world.”
Will Hashimoto be the big winner of “Showtime at the Apollo”? Tune in Thursday at 8 p.m. on KHON2 to find out.