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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 19, 2001

Sean Na'auao CDs offer a double treat in style

 •  'Holomua' mixes old with new
 •  'Progression' pulls off updated oldies

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Two CDs. Two styles of singing. Two genres of music. Two audiences.

Bob Marley is among Sean Na'auao's music influences.

Advertiser library photo

Too much?

Not if you're Sean Na'auao, the Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning singer-composer who will release two new albums tomorrow, each targeting a separate audience. It's a reflection of his versatility — as a contemporary performer in the faddish but lingering Jawaiian-reggae genre, and as a local-boy trouper eager to return to his roots in Hawaiian music.

"It's very exciting for me, and a first, because I've never done two albums of only one kind of music at any one time," said Na'auao, 32, who recorded the albums at his studio, Still Pounding, in Kailua.

The contemporary album is called "Progression," mirroring his mobility on the Island music scene. The Hawaiian disc is dubbed "Holomua," which also means progress or improvement, and it's a fresh take on his Hawaiian music.

But will fans buy into this dichotomy?

"I hope they do, and I think they will be surprised," said Na'auao, who previously released three mixed-bag albums. "I guess I've been known mostly for reggae and the contemporary side of the music business, though I've done a Hawaiian song here and there in earlier albums. I'm hoping there will be crossovers — if you like one, you will at least try the other."

Na'auao, who jointly makes business decisions with his wife, Kaui, said that a catalyst had been the success of his "Ka Pilina" song. The song, composed by Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett, won the Hoku Song of the Year Award this year.

"It opened up our eyes, to do a traditional Hawaiian album," Na'auao said.

The release of these albums is a measure of his growth, he said.

He was immersed in Hawaiian music as a child. But his musical influences include Bob Marley. And he is fond of the sounds of the '50s and '60s.

Na'auao can't recall when music wasn't part of his life. "At 3, I loved to listen to music and tried to play (instruments). My dad was my biggest influence, even now. He never made it to where he could record an album and be somebody, but he's always been a behind-the scenes piano player. My mom tells me I always used to hang out on the side of the stage, instead of playing with the rest of the kids. I would watch my dad and the band.

"I've always felt music would be part of my life," he said.