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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 24, 2001

Island Sounds
Darlene Ahuna adds twist to hula repertoire

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainement Editor

"Classic Hula from Darlene Ahuna" by Darlene Ahuna: Darlene Ahuna is a Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning songstress who assembles some of the favorite tunes from the hula repertoire. Result: This will be a biggie among students, as well as professional dancers.

Her voice is unmistakably Hawaiian, with all the bells and whistles of a kupuna (great enunciation, terrific artistry) but with the contemporary appeal for modern audiences. It's a blessed old-meets-new format that works.

The opening track, "Kuahiwi Nani," also known as "The Haleakala Hula," was earlier released as a teaser single to whet the appetite. The full-on collection now offers main courses and dessert for a truly satisfying hula meal.

There's not a single bad track. If you know how to hula, you'll likely get up and start your engines. If you've longed to learn, this is a handy-dandy to get that first lesson.

The songs are ones that you'll be able to perform at parties and celebrations: "Papalina Lahilahi," "Makee 'Ailana," "Kaimana Hila" "Haole Hula," "Kamalani O Keaukaha," "Miloli'i." And, if you're in a flirtatious mood, you can prance to "E Ku'u Baby Hot Cha Cha."

Ahuna is a Big Island resident and an established performer there. If folks elsewhere have yet to join the Ahuna bandwagon, this is hop on. It's a wondrous introduction, with snippets of pure gems as she hits the touches a nerve. And whether you have a hula foundation or not, the bottom line is that the performances are solid and expand the appeal of each ditty here.

In addition, the presence of lyrics on the liner fold-out is a joyous tool, not only to sing along but to educate: valuable translation extend the reach of the riches here.

"Reign" by Reign: Reign is all about harmonies. Think Boyz II Men with a local twist. Lush vocals. With minimal instrumentation.

Reign also is about hunks. Think Polynesians with sex appeal. Who sing. With romantic fervor.

The group is comprised of Loa Faimealelei, Kuhio Yim, Kale Chang, Afatia Thompson and Tinifuloa Grey. Different folks with different strokes, who, together, form a highly potent blend.

Reign has a contagious, alternating sound. Mostly hushed and amorous, like the "I Fell in Honolulu" number, which is an homage to the group's home city. But the tempos go up and the heartbeat hastens on such inventive tunes like "Pono," a Chang composition that's a pledge for humility and advocates prayer.

"Prove Your Love," written by Jason Lent (DisGuyz)and Elan Markos (J.E.'s Wish), is one of those nocturnal, oh-so-smoky love ballads, about honesty in relationships.

And because they're young, members also inject current ingredients in the music, like a rap midway through "All This Love."

Still, it's the lush, quiet tracks, such as "I'll Let It Be," that make Reign different and delightful.

"Covers" include Sting's "One World Is Enough" and the Isley Brothers' "For the Love of You," clearly revamped to suit Reign's range of vocal dexterity.

If the music doesn't grab you, peruse the liner notes; each member reigns supreme with open, honest and revealing thoughts in their bio-thank yous. Clearly, 'ohana is the foundation of Reign. And a belief in the Almighty. With this kind of upbringing and outlook, how can Reign miss?

"Kuahiwi Nani" by Darlene Ahuna. A 30-second audio sample is available in mp3 and RealAudio formats.

"Prove Your Love" by Reign. A 30-second audio sample is available in mp3 and RealAudio formats.