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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