Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 17, 2001

Island Sounds
Music from the heart

92-year-old composer makes CD debut

"The music of Muriel Flanders," by various artists (Mountain Apple Co.)

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Muriel Flanders is a kama'aina composer who has had a song in her heart for the past four decades. With this CD, performed by a diverse roster of artists, her simple, wistful and fond memories of Island living comes to life.

Muriel Flanders' songs are about family, Island places and changing Hawai'i, performed by various artists.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Inspired to write by her late husband of 65 years, Flanders has diligently and quietly composed songs about her family, of places she has lived, visions she has had of a changing Hawai'i. Under the tutelage of producers Jon de Mello and Kenneth Makuakane, her postcards of the past are sweetly and succinctly brought to fruition years for modern ears and hearts to explore.

Kumu hula O'Brian Eselu sings of "Sunny Kapolei," where the sun shines brighter, the air's sweeter, the streets neater — at least in Flanders' view.

"My Lanikai," oozing romance with the duet charms of Robert Cazimero and Teresa Bright, has the trademark Hawaiian-style hidden meaning: Flanders is actually recalling her father's temperament, from sunny to gray.

The Brothers Cazimero render "'Awapuhi Lau Pala Wale," a made-for-hula song about fragrant white ginger. "The Royal Rain," sung by Virginia Paleka, has regal implications, retelling the belief that when an ali'i dies, a royal rain falls from cloudless skies.

One of the most endearing cuts is "The Old Lahaina Jail," accentuated by the falsetto tones of Keao Costa, recalling a time when Hawaiian-style hospitality meant no keys. One of the most fetching lines: "The walls around the prison yard were tall and stout, not so much to keep the inmates in, as to keep the out-mates out."

Na Leo Pilimehana embraces two songs, "For You Pauahi," a sweet remembrance of students at Kamehameha, "each of us in spirit ... the child you never had," and "Beautiful Le'ahi," about Diamond Head and its related charms: "Your exquisite profile thrills my heart ... perfect is your ocean, blue beyond compare."

Flanders' other "places songs" are rich in detail and poignant in delivery. Kale Chang's tranquil reading of "City of Refuge," with Tony Conjugacion adding an element of chant, tells of the need to have a place of solace; "Lanikuhonua," by Kawika McGuire and Victoria Hollinger (son and mother), upholds the area the Campbell family once lived, resplendent with lagoons and palm trees; Conjugacion's "The Voice of Olomana" speaks of the "undisputed queen" of peaks.

"Black Tears of Pearl Harbor," sung by McGuire with simple piano accompaniment, is a sentimental homage to the USS Arizona and its victims.

Jeff Rasmussen's "A Drop of Aloha" offers a nourishing view and a panacea for stress.

Flanders has an affinity with nature and water: "The Floating Islands," in Makuakane's grasp, takes on the essence of a folk ballad; Moe Keale's "From Steamer Lane to Shore," acknowledges the imprint of Duke Kahanamoku in surfdom.

Considering her age (going on 92) and the years the tunes were in limbo, "The Music of Muriel Flanders" is an inspiration to others who have penned a song and never had it acknowledged and heard. Better late than never.