Nā Palapalai CDs in 2020

Two new CDs from Nā Palapalai, presenting two collections of favorite standards — sing along! — and popular hula tunes .

Streaming only; available in iTunes Store and Amazon.

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New CD: Kahekeonāpua by Kamaka Kukona

Kamaka Kukonaʻs third CD is here:  Kahekeonāpua. The greatest of flowers. Itʻs a great listen. I can hardly wait for my hard copy to arrive — I need the liner notes to answer many questions.



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New CDs in Hawaiian Music

Dear Readers,

Artists are still making and recording music, but largely without the benefit of record labels, distribution, and retail sales outlets. So I shall be tracking new CD releases as I learn about them–mainly through social media.

Faith Ako, Kuʻu ʻĀina Aloha

Faithʻs fourth release offers an eclectic array of old classics, new originals and music to hula by. One of the sweetest voices (and people) in music today.

Release parties were cancelled due to the coronavirus situation. Do reach out to Faith and support her music!

Faith Thompson Ako 2020


Kalani Pescaia, Kuʻu Huakaʻi

Maui native Kaulike Pescaia presents his debut release with ten original compositions and a pure falsetto voice that earned him first place in the 2018 Richard Hoʻopiʻi Falsetto Contest. Great production, beautiful Hawaiian language and a heartfelt delivery make this a winner.



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Happy Holidays 2019 !!

Dear Readers,

I am struck by the direction of new CD releases toward themed projects with multi-artist collaborations. Here is a gathering of the notables that I highly recommend supporting. I urge you all to consider supporting with $$ as well as with enthusiasm. In these times of great transformation in the recording industry, we fans must do what we can to convey to artists that what they are doing is worthwhile and meaningful.

Therefore, by way of a “2019 Gift List”, my recommendation is to support our artists and their tremendous effort to keep Hawaiian music going! Please, if you are a Spotify or Pandora or Apple Music or Amazon Music customer, play clicks do generate revenue. More so, please consider going to iTunes or Amazon.com or CDBaby and paying for downloads–in one instance, “Kuhaʻo Maunakea” is available ONLY as a download! Or go to our favorite indie retailers–Hawaiian Music Island or Me Ke Aloha and support both artists and retailers!!

And here they are:


1. HAWAIIAN LULLABY. A project by the Haku Collective–a group of artists closely affiliated with Mana Maoli and its Mana Mele Project. Nominated for a GRAMMY award in the “Best Regional Roots Music Album” category, this collection of songs for keiki and adults features oldies but goodies like “Pūpū Hinuhinu” and “ʻOpae Ē”; songs by favorite artists like Kalani Peʻa, Josh Tatofi, Paula Fuga, and The Green; and newer songs like “Aloha Kakahiaka” and “Songbird.” You can even download the beautifully designed Digital Booklet.



A remarkable project to channel the outpouring of new mele in support of the Kū Kiaʻi Maunakea movement. Produced under the auspices of Kanaeokana, producers Chad Takatsugi, Zach Lum and Shawn Pimental brought leading haku mele composers into the studio to record their new mele. The litany of award-winning haku mele: Del Beazley, Ikaika Blackburn, Manu Boyd, J.J. Kaimana Chock, Kalena DeLima, Kainani Kahaunaele, Kawika Kahiapo, Lehua Kalima, Manaiakalani Kalua, Kamalei Kawaʻa, Keawe Lopes, Zachary Alakaʻi Lum, Kanaiʻa Nakamura, Kālaʻe Parish, Kaulike Pescaia, Ānuenue Punua, Chad Takatsugi, Josh Tatofi, Hinaleimoana Wong, and Tiana Kuni Yoshida. The liner notes connects this activity with a longer history of poetic expression of aloha ʻāina in mele lāhui. Available only digitally (download on iTunes or Amazon, or listen at Apple Music or Spotify), the digital booklet with credits and lyrics is available at Kanaeokanaʻs site. Proceeds go directly to the organization HULI (Hawaiʻi Unity and Liberation Institute) in support of the Puʻuhonua at Mauna a Wākea.



Launched at a gala concert held at Maui Arts & Cultural Center Castle Theater on November 3, 2019, this project brings together Maui entertainers with old and new mele wahi pana that celebrate West Maui. An article at Mauinow.com provides background to the project. The CD (reportedly the first of two) includes 12 songs by 12 artists; the accompanying songbook includes 83 songs. Although you can listen to the album at streaming sites such as Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon Music, youʻll have to purchase the hard-copy CD to receive the liner notes. The songbook, edited by brothers Zachary Alakaʻi Lum and Nicholas Kealiʻi Lum, and published by the North Beach – West Maui Benefit Fund, Inc. will be available through Kamehameha Publishing. Proceeds will benefit the Nā Leo Kālele Hawaiian-language immersion program in West Maui.

This is one of the most significant publications to appear (at least since the Queenʻs Songbook in 1999), so look for manaʻo and commentary in greater length in a future post.


4. Liliʻuokalani, E LEI HOʻI, E LILIʻULANI Ē: Music for and by the Queen.

Speaking of the Queenʻs Songbook, here is the long-awaited project, sponsored by the Liliʻuokalani Trust, to bring a selection of the Queenʻs songs to life. Producer Louis “Moon” Kauakahi and assistant project director Eric Lee marshaled a star-studded lineup of ten featured artists on eighteen tracks. You can listen to the songs AND download the booklet at the Liliʻuokalani Trust website. But again, please support projects such as this by purchasing the hard-copy CD. I got my copy from Mele.com.

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Ke huli hoʻi nei

Dear Readers — Itʻs been over a year since my last post here. A lot has happened since. But among other things, I think itʻs time to resume thinking out loud about my greatest passion — Hawaiian music and hula. The music industry continues to fracture globally, as artists find their way in a social media and streaming landscape that made physical product virtually obsolete. Hawaiian artists continue to produce products, but finding them . . . is a challenge. Wonderful books have been published in recent years, which have not yet been duly noted and celebrated here at Hawaiian Music for Listening Pleasure. More video treasures turn up on YouTube and Vimeo and other platforms. We live in a time when we are in contact as never before. Our Facebook- and Twitter-saturated lives lets us watch our favorite artists encounter each other in Japan, or see hōʻike videos from friends & family in Indianapolis.

Within the next week I will post a 2019 gift list for Hawaiian music fans. Show your love and support your favorite artists!! Then drop by for conversation from time to time . . . Aloha, Amy K.

Previews: thoughts on the remarkable project “Lei Nāhonoapiʻilani” … 2020 Grammy nominees … multi-artist projects … a new focus called “sighted on eBay” … Hawaiian music channels (Headʻs up — theyʻre not all in Hawaiʻi) … stay tuned!

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Is hula choreography intellectual property?

The blog “Ae Love Hula” has a thoughtful post about the lawsuit in Japan that sought to stop unauthorized use of a kumu hulaʻs choreography. The decision, favor of the kumu hula, recognizes an important principle:  that the choreography created by a kumu or instructor is the intellectual property of that instructor. One of the impacts of this ruling is to establish that choreographies that have been passed down over multiple generations have passed into the public domain, and no one person or entity is entitled to copyright such a choreography.

But when the choreography IS the creative work of an individual or group of people in the present, it IS intellectual property of the creator, and that creator has the right to ensure that their work is not infringed upon, or used without authorization.

Being pono, in this case, is respecting that contemporary choreography is the work of its creator.

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Aloha ʻOe – Kawaiahao Seminary Quartet

Mahalo a nui to record collector Ryan Erickson who posted this recording on his YouTube channel then shared it with the Facebook group Hawaiian Music From The Golden Age. This is one of four recordings this group made for Victor Records. Discographer Malcolm Rockwell dates the recordings to July 1904, and discusses evidence that these recordings were likely made in New York City.

Note how the singers render the rhythm of “Aloha ʻoe” at the beginning of the chorus.

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Wai – Waiwai – Waipuna

Waipuna Poki SP-9089

Waipunaʻs self-titled release (Poki SP-9089) celebrates the groupʻs 10th anniversary. Originally a duo of Kale Hannahs and Matt Sproat, David Kamakahi came on board by the time of the groupʻs EP, Nāpili, released in 2013. Their 2014 release, E Mau Ke Aloha, remains in rotation on my playlists. So it was a given that this new release—their first since 2014—would be welcome.

Iʻll admit it took a few playings for things to start to groove. Chalk it up not to anything on the CD itself, but to the disruptions of reality drenched in multitasking and social media. You know how it goes—press play, return to a memo, before you know it track 4 is on, then get lost in Facebook, resurface to catch a phrase of track 7, answer some texts, and suddenly the CD is over. Repeat, and maybe bits of tracks 3, 8 and 11 break through into consciousness. And so it goes.

But after a few such listenings, I found my attention span getting longer. Then I started reaching for the liner notes to read up on individual songs. Then I began to read around the song I was listening to, then reaching over to click on repeat or previous track, and even restarting from the beginning. After a few times of this routine, I found myself listening from start to finish, and thoughts began welling up about themes. So back to the liner notes, then back to the start of the CD with the liner notes in hand.

So, Dear Readers, this post is about Waipunaʻs CD, but it is also about the rewards of taking in an album in its entirety and not simply cherry-picking out the favorite tracks and leaving behind the rest. (If anything, there is no filler on this CD. None, zip, nada. Everything is intentional. Everything.)

In the liner notes, I noticed that the terms wai and waiwai (or both together) followed each of the song titles, somewhat cryptically. A Skype conversation with Kale Hannahs this past May helped to tease out many streams of thought about how wai, waiwai, and waipuna are the keys to appreciating the arc pulsing throughout the entire CD, and grasping what this album offers.

Wai. Waiwai. Waipuna. On this CD, the theme of water flows. In abundance. Water is wealth; hence the Hawaiian term for wealth is “waiwai”—got plenty water. And a waipuna is a wellspring where, in Puakea Nogelmeierʻs poetic musing, “fresh water pours forth …from mist and rain to aquifer, stream and river … each one fostering life. A waipuna is a portal of that whole cycle, embodying its pulse and surge.”

Now consider how the songs are grouped using wai and waiwai:

Wai (only): “Heha Waipiʻo” (tr. 7) and “He Aloha Waiau” (tr. 8). Songs about water at places famed for water. With both songs, the connections are genealogical – moʻokūʻauhau – to the singers or to the haku mele.

Waiwai (only): “Lei Hala Pono O Kailua” (tr. 2), Na Aliʻi Puolani (tr. 3), “Maunalani” (tr. 6), “Ka Pono O Ka Hana” (tr. 9), “Hanohano No Ke Kukui” (tr. 11), “Bodysurfing” (tr. 12), “He Mele No Pēpē” (tr. 13), “Majesty” (tr. 14), “Shimanchu No Takara “ (tr. 15). In Kaleʻs words, “a song could be waiwai (wealth, treasure) without being about wai. So these songs celebrate relationships with folks dear to Waipuna over the years. For example, kumu hula and recording artist Tony Conjugacion wrote “Lei Hala Pono O Kailua” with Waipuna in mind; and “Hanohano No Ke Kukui” was written by Kale for kumu hula Ed Collier and his Halau o Nā Pua Kukui. “Majesty” features Kawika Kahiapoʻs majestic baritone/low tenor voice on Mattʻs momʻs favorite song. “Shimanchu No Takara,” learned in a post-concert karaoke session, is offered as a makana mahalo to the groupʻs Japanese fans, a hana hou afterparty to the CD. Wealth flows in more than one direction, from Waipuna as well as to them.

Wai and waiwai:  “E Hoʻi Nā Wai” (tr. 1), “Waipuna” (tr. 4), “Koʻolau Uʻi” (tr. 5), “Nā Wai Kaulana” (tr. 10). Here is the heart of the collection. How can anyone riff on water without “Na Wai Kaulana”? Yup. “Koʻolau Uʻi” – this CD debuts another treasure from beloved haku mele Rev. Dennis Kamakahi. As if that genealogical connection werenʻt enough, Waipuna ramps up the relationship of Nā Koʻolau with the Aweau family, by featuring the inimitable Nathan Aweau breaking out into some serious basswork (Bootsy Collins fans, check in!).

This brings us to “E Hoʻi Nā Wai” and “Waipuna” which, to me, are the mele that anchor the entire album. “E Hoʻi Nā Wai” is Pueo Pataʻs pule for the restoration of water and water rights. He accomplishes this through an enumeration of various manifestations of wai, delivered in a really really cool recitation that is part tongue-twister, part game, and pure genius. It is the perfect mele to open a collection of wai- and waiwai-themed mele. Thus returning us to “Waipuna”—Puakea Nogelmeierʻs gift of a mele inoa name song to the group. After 10 years of performing, and four stellar CDs, these musicians have established their roles in the cycle of mele that nurtures, revitalizes, and replenishes our spirit, just as wai gives us life, and enriches life with treasures, connections, relationships, memories–waiwai.

In our conversation this past May, Kale reflected on thematic linkages. He said “we try to focus on the flow of the music” instead of crafting a narrative. We talked a bit about the current state of the music industry, especially about the decline of CDs as project as well as product, and music fansʻ shift towards cherry-picking individual songs over time-consuming effort required to engage deeply with a narrative arc over a thoughtfully-arranged collection of songs. Be that as it may, musicians like Waipuna are still investing in crafting a collection for which the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. And of course listeners are always free to find the connections that speak to them—as I have done here with Waipunaʻs latest CD.

Waipuna – a wellspring of life and abundance. Indeed.

Mahalo, Kale, for pulling over to the side of the road to talk story. Mahalo, Waipuna, for the waiwai. 




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Take 5: Hiʻilawe

Aloha Dear Readers!  Iʻve been intensely going through over 100 commercially-released recordings of the song “Hiʻilawe.” Here are my personal picks (in no particular order):

Lito Arkangel. All 13 verses, rendered in beautiful Hawaiian pronunciation. From the CD me ke aloha (Palm Records, 2014).


Kamakele “Bulla” Kaʻiliwai. Nā Hulukūpuna (Ululoa UL-110), 2004. Bulla is joined on this track by Cody Pueo Pata and Kaiolohia Smith. They sing ALL 26 lines of the song. BUT they arrange it differently–into stanzas of 4 lines instead of 2. This required a modified tune. What I hear retains the sonic imagery of descending cascades of water.


Sudden Rush. An homage to the soundscapes of ka poʻe Hawaiʻi, from the past to the future. What Hiʻilawe playlist would be complete without Sudden Rush?


Keale.  From the CD ʻĀina Kūpuna (Rhythm & Roots Records, 2015). From a musician who ranges inventively over his entire toolbox, here is a gypsy-inflected version, complete with soulful violin solos. The rhythms are genius — Keale combines a tripe and a duple rhythm–at the same time!!


Kaimoku. From the CD The ʻUkulele Experiment (Kahuku Watermelon Productions, 2004). A sparkling ʻukulele ensemble gem. The melody is rendered instrumentally. The mele is chanted by Lopaka Igarta-De Vera. Cool.


And a forgotten vocal version by John K. Almeida and His Hawaiians on the 49th State Record Co. label. Most–but not all–of the verses are sung here.


Mahalo to Norm Markowitz who helped me get the Kaimoku and John K. Almeida tracks up on YouTube for your listening pleasure.

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Asleep at the Wheel?

Aloha, Dear Readers!

Where did 2017 go? Wow, blink, and . . . <poof> kokoke i nalowale!

I am enjoying a sabbatical leave from teaching paid in service to my department and university. I am finally getting into a writing groove. Hawaiian Songs Ancient and Modern is taking shape, now that I finally have the wherewithal to sit at home, ignoring all emails, declining requests for promotion evaluations and recommendation letters, allowing myself to be released from the obligation to attend any number of events and “networking opportunities,” and generally holding just about anything I can beyond armʻs length. (The wall oven installation carnival of errors with Loweʻs has been, in hindsight, quite a focus-buster. But life goes on . . . )

Just to let you all know, I have been updating the running bibliographies of Hawaiian music and hula on this site–point to “Bibliographies” in the menu above. I am so happy to see a growing community of scholars producing exciting new–and even award-winning–scholarship. Off the top of my head at the moment, doctoral dissertations from Jace Saplan and Andrea Low, mastersʻ theses from Guy Cundell and Eugenia Conte, books from John Troutman and J. Revell Carr (both winning major awards), a wonderful article in the latest volume of Hawaiian Journal of History (2017) titled “The Gospel Roots of “Hawaiʻi Aloha” by Ralph Thomas Kam. We are all blessed that new knowledge is moving forward and gaining momentum!

CDs — the action is on Facebook, folks. Even Mele.com canʻt keep up! Simply because the distribution system has totally disintegrated, so anyone outside the Mountain Apple Co. orbit has been reduced to self-releasing and selling product at gigs. And that is presuming anyone is still purchasing CDs, because we are now all watching videos on YouTube and Facebook: ʻOiwi TVʻs series “Mele Ma Ka Lihiwai,” the long-running HI Sessions YouTube channel, the weekly “Pakele Live” now streamed live, are some of the highlights, as well as uber-fans like Norm Markowitz posting videos from various venues and events in California . . .

Note: Iʻm still buying CDs whenever I can get my hands on them, because that is the only way to get the liner notes!!

And let us all send heartfelt aloha to Aunty Wanda Certo and her ʻohana in this time of illness!

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