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:

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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.

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2. KŪHAʻO MAUNAKEA

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.

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3. LEI NĀHONOAPIʻILANI

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.

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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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