Here are several examples of anthologies that focus clearly on the choice of songs. Each of these examples features the work of a single artist who is creating a comprehensive collection of songs that are related to each other–either by providing a historical survey, or an encyclopedic collection of a particular song type.
Rose Ensemble, Nā Mele Hawai’i: A Rediscovery of Hawaiian Vocal Music
A most extraordinary anthology that sweeps across all of the genres of Hawaiian song. The Rose Ensemble is a professional vocal ensemble based in St. Paul, Minnesota. They are a non-profit arts organization with a strong focus on education and outreach. This program is the result of several years of historical research and extensive consultation and coaching. The result is a program of unsurpassed beauty. In their own words: “Don’t miss this journey through Hawai‘i’s musical heritage—steeped in tradition, transformed by worldwide influences and reborn through the struggle to carry the past into the present—an artistic legacy that looks and sounds nothing like a steoretype.” The 29 tracks (yes, you read correctly—29 tracks) span the entire range of Hawaiian song genres—oli, mele hula, hīmeni and mele Hawai’i. Professional singers offer rare gems—early hymnody, and art songs that require incredible vocal virtuosity. This CD is available directly from The Rose Ensemble, at their website: http://www.roseensemble.org/recordings/cd.html [Disclosure: I was one of the consultants in the research and production of this program. It was a rare privilege to work with dedicated professionals who possessed sincere commitment along with stunning talent. All proceeds from CD sales benefit The Rose Ensemble entirely.]
Ku‘uipo Kumukahi & Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Serenaders, Nā Lani ‘Ehā
The songs on this CD are entirely of the mele Hawai‘i genre popular among musically literate songwriters in the late 19th century. Moreover, the songs are by the siblings Kalakaua, Liliʻuokalani, Likelike, and Leleiohoku, all of whom were prolific songwriters of mele Hawaiʻi songs.
Jack de Mello, Music of Hawai‘i (Mountain Apple MACD-2044). This is a condensed one-volume version of the four volume boxed LP recordings from the late 1960s.
The original boxed LP sets appear fairly frequently on ebay. Each boxed set included extensive liner notes on each song, as well as discussion of the recording process. They are highly recommended for their historical overview. The contents of the boxed sets were posted here on September 16, 2009.
George Kahumoku, Jr. and Daniel Ho. Hymns of Hawai‘i vols. 1-2
These two CDs contain a representative collection of himeni that are popular in the present. There are Hawaiian standards such as “Hawai’i Aloha,” “Kanaka Waiwai” and “The Queen’s Prayer” that are often performed and recorded outside of church services. Hymns popular among Protestant congregations include “Nu ‘Oli” and “Maika’i E Launa Me ‘Oe.” Also included are Hawaiian-language performances of popular English hymns such as “Ke Akua Mana E” (How Great Thou Art) and “‘Akahi No a Hele Pu” (Just a Closer Walk With Thee).
Karen Keawehawai‘i, Songs of Old Hawai‘i. Kaleolani) First issued on cassette as a boxed set in 1987, this reissue makes available once again singer Karen Keawehawai’i’s encyclopedic approach to hapa haole songs. The contents of these four volumes include the most well-known and performed songs, such as “Lovely Hula Hands,” “Beyond the Reef,” and “Keep Your Eyes on The Hands.” The CDs are available directly from Karen’s Music Store.