Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, March 6, 2005

Inspired 'Ulu Kai' album from master of Island music, hula

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Two traditional Hawaiian music collections — one by a prolific contemporary singer-composer, the other by a veteran grassroots favorite — top the music agenda this week, along with a religious music collection.


Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett; Makuakane Music Corp.

Genre: Traditional Hawaiian.

Distinguishing notes: Kawaikapuokalani Hewett is as prolific as they come; as a singer, composer and kumu hula, his mastery over Hawaiian sentiments and words is irrefutable. Listen to the words roll out of his mouth and you know this is the genuine article; tune in to the melodies, and you know this is a true craftsman with an ear for the romantic, the comforting, the contemplative Island soul. This collection of a dozen songs, some previously recorded by the likes of Loyal Garner, The Makaha Sons, Teresa Bright, Sean Na'auao and Hawaiian Heart, demonstrates the appeal of his creations among a spectrum of other talents. "Aloha Ku'u Home A I Ke'alohi," "Ka Pilina," "Pili Aumoe" and "Poli'ahu" are gentle mele with hula syncopation, evoking rich and resonant images of moments in his life. There are personal attachments to every tune; "Ilihia I Ka Nani" is a mele inoa (a name song) for his granddaughter, "Sakura" for another granddaughter, and "He Pule No Na Koa" to commemorate the heartache of sending off a child to fight in a war. The sweet and appealing female voice, in harmony, solo and background slots, is that of Lorna Lim.

The outlook: Hewett already has been acknowledged as a true resource of things and themes Hawaiian; "Ulu Kau" further confirms his stature as one of the best.

Our take: "Ulu Kau" means inspiration; and this one by Hewett is inspired.

"Aia La I Paliuli" by Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett. Audio sample available in mp3 format.


Braddah Smitty; Ku'uhoapili Productions

Genre: Traditional Hawaiian

Distinguishing notes: Many know Braddah Smitty as a latter-day member of Eddie Kamae's Sounds of Hawai'i. He's also an old-school musician influenced by the likes of Gabby Pahinui, Sonny Chillingworth, Leland "Atta" Isaacs and Moe Keale. His grassroots style is a flashback to earlier times, the voice and the music recalling laid-back lounges or backyard jams, where the beer flows as easily as the music. "Maile Lauli'ili," "Pua Lilia," "He Wahine U'i,""Hi'ilawe," "He Punahele No Oe," "Pauoa Liko Ka Lehua" are quick, contagious favorites; even the non-Hawaiian entities, such as "On a Little Street of Singapore," is incredibly local and luscious.

The outlook: Examine his phraseology from one tune to the next; it speaks volumes of authenticity and heartfelt emotion.

Our take: This is the voice of experience, the soul of a people worth adopting.

"Only You" by Braddah Smitty. Audio sample available in mp3 format.


Na Kahu; Aloha Ke Akua Ministries

Genre: Hawaiian religious music.

Distinguishing notes: Kahu (ministers or pastors) from across the state assemble for this celebration of Hawaiian religious songs. They include Gaymond Apaka, Kawika Kahiapo, Jorie and Christie West, Mahealani Keale and Hanali Colleado. Most selections are offered in Hawaiian, including "No Kristo" and "Ua Mau," which might possibly be the best known among the contents, but "Aloha Is" (a tribute to Moe Keale) is rendered in English.

The outlook: A hard-sell to those not connected to the ministries of each participating kahu.

Our take: Admirable effort, rooted in tradition and culture.

"Hawai'i 78 Revisited" by Na Kahu. Audio sample available in mp3 format.

Reach Wayne Harada at 525-8067, wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com, or fax 525-8055.