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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 20, 2007

All bets are on at Na Hoku awards

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Na Palapalai, from left, Kuana Torres, Keao Costa and Kehau Tamure, is tied with Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom for the most nominations in this year's Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

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It's Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom versus Na Palapalai. Henry Kapono taking on Keali'i Reichel. Barefoot Natives up against the Brothers Cazimero. And Brittni Paiva going toe to toe with Jake Shimabukuro.

A 50th state music industry take on "Celebrity Deathmatch?" Dream on.

These are just a few of the nominee match-ups bound to make tonight's 30th annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards ceremony an interesting one to watch.

As always, the awards honor the best local recordings and recording artists of the previous year in this case, 2006. Voted on this spring by the more than 600 members of the Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts, Na Hoku Hanohano awards will be handed out in 25 categories this year.

There are two new categories: music video DVD of the year and R&B/hip-hop album of the year.

Also new? The ceremony's Hawai'i Convention Center home base. KFVE/K5 will air the awards live and online, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Categories to watch, and other 2007 Na Hoku Hanohano minutiae to keep in mind when tuning in tonight:

  • The battle of the lead nominees. These would be Gilliom and Na Palapalai, with eight nominations each for the best-selling albums "Generation Hawai'i" and "Ka Pua Hae Hawai'i," respectively. Up against each other in six categories including album of the year, Hawaiian album of the year, song of the year and favorite entertainer of the year both are multiple past Hoku winners with strong voting bases.

    Gilliom's "Generation" was nominated for a best Hawaiian music album Grammy this year; Na Palapalai's disc is a strong contender for next year's Grammy nominee list.

    It's tough to predict which, if any, of the two will sweep tonight. The unfolding drama, however, should be fun to watch.

  • Group therapy. Group of the year, this year, is a no-filler category. Taken together, all five nominees Na Palapalai, Barefoot Natives, Kaukahi, Pali and the Brothers Cazimero have 26 total nominations this year.

    Barefoot Natives (with Willie K and Eric Gilliom) and Kaukahi have the buzz. But Na Palapalai and the Caz have multi-Hoku-winning histories. Willie K's Hoku-winning history on his own, with Gilliom sis Amy Hanaiali'i and a well-received debut disc could take Natives to the podium here.

  • Who's the man? Male vocalist of the year is another competitive contest, with past category winners Keali'i Reichel and Nathan Aweau again in the mix, solid discs from Brother Noland and Pekelo in the running, and the presence of Henry Kapono's Grammy-nominated "The Wild Hawaiian."

    Reichel's Christmas disc "Maluhia" looks good. But a win for "The Hawai'i Classic Series Vol. II Hula" would be Aweau's second consecutive in the category, having won last year for "Vol. I Vintage." And speaking of. ...

  • Henry Kapono and "The Wild Hawaiian." Kapono's wildly imaginative shoulda-been-nominated-for-album-of-the-year fusion of Hawaiian lyrics, chant and pure rock bravado settles for three nominations tonight: rock album of the year, male vocalist of the year and an engineering nod for Dave Russell. The Hoku for the year's best rock disc should be his tonight.

  • Those brand-new categories. It'd be sweet to see Honolulu's burgeoning hip-hop scene get some props with a Creed Chameleon win for "Love Potion Cyanide" in the R&B/hip-hop album of the year category. His competition includes discs from Afatia, Bishop, Mandi Seekings, Krystiles and Mana Poly All-Stars.

    Your prediction is as good as mine for music video of the year with "Best of Na Mele IV," "Overdrive Live 3," "KCCN FM 100 Birthday Bash Sweet 16," The Makaha Sons' "Live at the Hawai'i Theatre," and Hapa's "Maui" all up for the award.

  • The battle of the instrumentalists. The uke duke between relative newcomer Paiva's "Brittni" and veteran Shimabukuro's "Gently Weeps" will likely yield the winner for instrumental album of the year. But don't count out Keola Beamer's deft and imaginative ki ho'alu-tinged disc of classical guitar "Ka Hikina O Ka Hau (The Coming of the Snow)" for a win.

  • The promise of Paula Fuga. Fuga's bold and lovely "Lilikoi" disc cast off any remaining negative residue of the vocalist's unfortunate "American Idol" run several years back, revealing her as an inventive and resourceful talent.

    That talent is confirmed tonight with three "Lilikoi" nods for contemporary album of the year, most promising artist of the year and female vocalist of the year. She's a deserved winner in the first, a shoo-in for the second, and would be a surprise in the last.

  • Album of the year and Hawaiian album of the year. Gilliom's and Na Palapalai's discs provide the most high-profile head-to-head battle in both categories. One of the two will likely take home Hawaiian album of the year.

    Both have some solid competition for album of the year. Past category winner Eddie Kamae nominated for his "Eddie Kamae & Friends" disc and Barefoot Natives have equally strong shots at taking home Na Hoku's top prize.

    Let the office pool begin!

    Reach Derek Paiva at dpaiva@honoluluadvertiser.com.