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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 6, 2001

TV review
'Na Mele' returns to old-style tradition

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Two singers use seasoned Hawaiian artistry in music Singers Kawai Cockett and Darlene Ahuna, past Na Hoku Hanohano Award winners, bring seasoned Hawaiian artistry, in the old-style tradition, to the latest "Na Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song," airing tomorrow on Hawai'i Public Television.

Cockett is an unflashy, straightforward singer, with roots on Moloka'i, who used to front the Lei Kukui Serenaders in Waikiki shows. These days, his public appearances are few.

Ahuna, who lives on the Big Island, performs in the traditional Hawaiian style, often using her stellar voice as an instrument.

Like Cockett, she maintains a classic, rather than contemporary, posture.

So those who prefer unpretentious and genuine Island-style singing should check out this segment.

The pair perform separately and together, recalling earlier Hawaiian times when the voice was the thing.

Cockett works with the duo of Sam Septimo (guitar and vocals) and Charlie Wahineho'okae (bass and vocals); Haaheo Cockett performs a couple of hula. Ahuna's crew includes J.J. Ahuna (her husband, on bass and vocals) and Ledward Ka'apana (bass and vocals).

So you really get three shows in one: Cockett with his 'ohana, Ahuna with hers, and the two together.

His fare includes a lively "Hale'iwa Paka," the Auntie Alice Namakelua composition, and a sweetly nostalgic "Anahola," augmented by a hula.

Her numbers range from her award-winning "Kuahiwi Nani (The Haleakala Hula)," another Namakelua original, to an exhilarating treatment of "Akaka Falls," with falsetto embellishment. Ahuna also pays warm tribute to Auntie Genoa Keawe via Keawe's signature "Mino'aka."

The finale is a joint effort on the familiar "Pauoa Ka Liko Lehua," with Cockett abandoning 'ukulele for a moment to "dance" the lyrics with his own kind of body language, and Ahuna maintaining a genuine backyard kanikapila flavor.

Ahuna also offers insightful introductions to her tunes, a departure from most "Na Mele" segments, which usually keep patter to a minimum. It's great to have a little chit-chat to shed light, and history, on each tune.