Aloha Dear Readers! As the year draws to a close, I am drawn to reflect on the Hawaiian music CDs that have come onto my radar. I do not pretend to offer a comprehensive review, because as you know, I am partial to recordings of Hawaiian-langauge songs. But based on a list of recordings that I compiled this morning, of 2013 CDs that have come onto my radar, some fascinating insights came into view.
My terribly unscientific list numbers some 45 or so CDs. And this is how they kind of fall into groups:
- 18 of the new CDs I have acquired this year are by male vocalists who are featured soloists. In alphabetical order, the gentlemen are: Ikaika Blackburn, Danny Carvalho, Robert Cazimero, Norman DeCosta, Steven Espaniola, Daryl Gonzales, Nate Kanae, Kuana Torres Kahele, Henry Kapono, Elias Kauhane Jr., Kekaimoku, Kamaka Kukona, Chino Montero, Sean Na’auao, Nicholas Jon Navales, Al Tringali, Neal Yamamura, Mark Yamanaka
- 7 of the new CDs are by 6 female vocalists who are featured soloists: Faith Ako, newcomer Kanani Enos, Robi Kahakalau, Natalie ʻAi Kamau’u, Mailani (who released her third CD, Manawa, early in the year, and a Christmas CD, My Island Christmas, late in the fall), and the now single-monikered Nāpua.
- Among groups who released CDs (a “group” being more than one person), the stats are as follows: 2 womenʻs groups–Nā Leo Pilimehana and The Hula Honeys; 5 menʻs groups– newcomers Ho’omana and Kaiholu, veteran (and award-winning) artists KumZ and Waipuna, and the duo release from Nathan Aweau and Jeff Peterson; and two mixed groups, The Lim Family, and Kūpaoa (who released their third CD, Bumbye, early in the year, and put out an EP, I Know You By Heart, shortly before Christmas).
- ‘Ukulele soloists: 3 CDs, from Troy Fernandez, a Christmas offering from Kalei Gamiao, and Herb Ohta Jr.
- Slack Key Guitar: kind of challenging to count, as musicians continue to explore repertoire beyond the Hawaiian standards, and as guitarists step to the microphone. The six CDs that came across my desk and into my iTunes library this year are all by men, all of whom are veteran recording artists: Danny Carvalho (who shines as a vocalist), John Keawe, Makana, Jeff Peterson, Jim “Kimo” West, and the duo release from Nathan Aweau and Jeff Peterson.
As a Hawaiian music fan living far from Hawai’i, I am particularly intrigued to note that, among the 40+ CDs,
6 7 were produced by artists who, to my knowledge, reside outside Hawai’i. In southern California, kumu hula Kekaimoku Yoshikawa and ki ho’alu artist Jim “Kimo” West; in the San Francisco Bay/northern California region, Faith Ako, Steven Espaniola, and the group Ho’omana; and in Seattle, Elias Kauhane, Jr. and Al Tringali (mahalo Gregg). E ō e nā ipu kukui e pio mau i nā ala loa!
Do I have favorites? Of course! Am I going to share? Um, maybe paha. But in the meantime, I wish you all blessings for this holiday season, and happiness and prosperity in 2014. My warmest aloha, Dear Readers!!