New Music Releases Make a Run for the Hawaiian Grammy

New Music Releases Make a Run for the Hawaiian Grammy

Hawaii’s most Grammy Award winning producer, songwriter, composer and musician, Daniel Ho, has checked in from Los Angeles to let us know that he’s submitted a handful of albums for consideration of this year’s Grammy for Hawaiian music. As most of you know, Ho and Tia Carrere took last year’s Grammy with their duet album, ikena.

In the running this year from Daniel Ho Creations is an amazing collaborative effort from George Kahumoku, Jr. and Bob Brozman, entitled Kani Wai: Sound of Water. Kahumoku’s voice rings like Hawaii’s own Nat Cole; his vocal styling and seemingly effortless strumming are only enhanced by Brozman’s expertise in acoustic lap steel guitar. The pair compliment each other as if they were born to play together. At times, you can literally feel the breeze blowing as they sound off each other.

Next up is the second volume of the Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar concert series, which is a live, weekly performance, held in West Maui, and led by Kahumoku, Jr. The songs here are classics the minute they lift off the strings. Kahumoku insures this by inviting not only master slack key players, but people who have influenced his music, and those whom he greatly respects throughout the islands. On this compilation are songs with Sonny Lim, Dennis Kamakahi, Owana Salazar, Kawika Kahiapo, Jeff Peterson, Daniel Ho, Keoki Kahumoku and others. Hearing the live takes make you want to drive the Pali past Lahaina, straight to Napili, where the sessions are recorded in front of a live audience.

The third album Ho hopes to contend is his second effort with Ms. Carrere, entitled He Nani. This time, the duo employs lyricist Amy Ku`uleialoha Stillman, who puts Carrere to the test with Hawaiian verses and complex phrasings. We attest that it’s not solely her physical beauty that shines through: Carrere hits every note, bending her voice where necessary, gently approaching each line with dedicated enthusiasm and clarity. Ho’s musical styling is spot on, crisp and well-produced (as expected!). There might be something to say about working with someone for over two decades (Ho and Carrere first teamed up in high school).

The final two albums Ho is submitting are separate works by enchanting Hawaiian singer-songwriters Darlene Ahuna and Kawaikapuokalani Hewett. Where Ahuna offers lullaby-esque ballads on her album Aloha Pumehana, Hewett churns out Hawaiian chants and original lyrics sung to simple melodies. The original works by both artists harken back to the days of sitting on the front lanai, watching the sun sink behind the mountain. If you’re away from Hawaii, these albums will put you back in the Aloha frame of mind.

Hearing the live takes make you want to drive the Pali past Lahaina, straight to Napili, where the sessions are recorded in front of a live audience.