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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 29, 2003

Na Palapalai honored with five Hoku

 •  2003 Na Hoku Hanohano winners

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Na Palapalai walked away the top winner at last night's 26th annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards ceremony with five awards.

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Na Palapalai — from left, Kehau Tamure, Kuana Torres and Keao Costa — topped the list of Na Hoku Hanohano winners last night at the Sheraton Waikiki. Their five awards included group of the year and best album. See list of winners.

Jake Shimabukuro was entertainer of the year.

Photos by Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The traditional Hawaiian group was awarded Hoku for Hawaiian album of the year, album of the year, best Hawaiian language performance, best haku mele and group of the year.

After winning its first award for its "Makani 'Olu'olu" album, the group thanked their families, God and presenter Aunty Genoa Keawe.

Later in the evening, accepting its final award for album of the year, Na Palapalai members turned the microphone over to producer Shawn Pimental, who dedicated the award to "all the musicians who dedicate their lives to music who will never be recognized."

There were other multi-award winners. Taking two awards for instrumental album of the year for "Sunday Morning" and entertainer of the year was 'ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro. The entertainer of the year honor was his first as a solo artist — he had previously won the award as a member of Pure Heart and Col—n.

After thanking those who supported him when his only audience was at Kaimuki High School pep rallies, Shimabukuro shared with the audience advice from his mom.

"Believe in what you do ... be true to yourself," he said. He ended with an amplified, "Whoo!"

Nathan Aweau took home two Hoku — male vocalist of the year for his album "E Apo Mai" and song of the year for its title track.

Backstage, just after receiving his male vocalist award, Aweau said he was still nervous and unable to find words to describe the moment. "It's just a good confirmation that all the work I put into this ... that I did something good," he said.

First-time nominee Raiatea Helm accepted two Hoku for female vocalist of the year and most promising artist, both for her work on the album "Far Away Heaven."

There were numerous cheers of "Raiatea!" before presenter Marlene Sai could name Helm as winner of most promising artist.

"First of all, mahalo ke akua," said Helm, before thanking family, friends and musicians Ho'okena and Makaha Sons, among others.

The evening was filled with terrific live performances from Helm (sweetly backed by Ho'okena), Shimabukuro, Kalapana, Hulu Lindsey and 'Ale'a. Also, nominated female duo Keahiwai kicked off the night's performances.

Also turning in exceptional performances were Aweau, who performed an acoustic "A Place Called Hawai'i" with Buddy Fo, and Go Jimmy Go with a funky soul track from its "Soul Arrival" CD, nominated for rock album of the year.

The evening ended with a much anticipated performance by Cecilio & Kapono of "Lifetime Party."

Guests started arriving at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel early, mostly skipping past a red carpet and band set up to welcome them. Despite the humid weather, the people seemed in the mood for getting dressed up.

Many males chose crisp black suits with maile as their lei of choice. Second was dressy aloha wear. Women either chose elegant cocktail attire (mostly stylish black) or aloha-print dresses and mu'u mu'u.

Conversations on the deck seemed to revolve around who would wind up taking home the most awards. The preshow buzz appeared to be settling around sweeps for Na Palapalai and Helm.

The cocktail reception outside the ballroom was crowded with nominees, presenters and guests, most of them bedecked in colorful, elaborate lei.

Closer to airtime, Helm seemed unable to move past a table without having someone drape a lei around her full noggin.