Slack-key compilation album wins Grammy
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By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Wayne Harada
A slack-key guitar compilation has won the Hawaiian music Grammy for the fourth year running. "Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar," a compilation album combining ki ho'alu and Hawaiian vocals, walked off with the award yesterday in Los Angeles.
The winning album brushed off competition from well-known Hollywood actress Tia Carrere; up-and-coming singer Raiatea Helm; singer and guitarist in the family tradition Cyril Pahinui; and Keola Beamer, who had disavowed any ambition to win the award.
It was a third straight Grammy win for a producers hui including Daniel Ho, a musician from Honolulu now based in Los Angeles — and a validation by Grammy voters of the producers' approach, combining slack-key and Hawaiian-language vocals by masters of longstanding reputation.
This year's compilation features Ledward Ka'apana, Cyril and Martin Pahinui (sons of the legendary Gabby Pahinui), Dennis Kamakahi, Owana Salazar, Keoki Kahumoku, Ho and George Kahumoku Jr.
Producers Ho, George Kahumoku Jr., Paul Konwiser and Wayne Wong present weekly live slack-key concerts on Maui, in addition to the recordings.
"As soon as I heard 'Treasures,' I went a little crazy," said Ho, just moments after receiving his gramophone trophy, calling from the Los Angeles Convention Center. "It's no less exciting than the last time. We had butterflies."
Ho followed a Grammy routine he started in 2006. "I had my lucky penny with me," he said, "and I wore my lucky coat — still haven't washed it." Ho picked up a penny in the parking lot on the way to that first awards ceremony, then won the award; and his black jacket had beer spilled on it at an after-party celebrating the 2007 win.
Carrere sat next to Ho at the convention center, since Ho also produced her Grammy-nominated album "Hawaiiana." But she had no comment on the results.
"Maybe next year," said Cyril Pahinui, who earned a nomination for his solo CD, "He'eia," which combines slack-key and vocals, and also played on the Grammy-winning album. "I'm still part of the winner, so it was still exciting for me to be here."
Nominees Keola Beamer ("Ka Hikina O Ka Hau [The Coming Of The Snow]") and Raiatea Helm ("Hawaiian Blossom") did not attend the awards this year.
When the winner was announced, producers and guitarists, all wearing lei, swarmed onto the stage. Ho dedicated his award to his future father-in-law, Marvin Miyashiro of Honolulu, who was battling illness in a California hospital yesterday. Ho's fiancee, Lydia Miyashiro, helps run Daniel Ho Creations.
After returning from the stage, George Kahumoku Jr. said he hopes to put together another compilation for next year's competition, but he has other projects lined up as well.
With a third win for his crew and a fourth for slack-key albums, Ho is bracing for more talk about the Grammy love affair with ki ho'alu — though the winning CD does include Hawaiian vocals on most tracks. "I'm going to keep it all on a positive note," Ho said. "We do the best work we can."
Mainland voters' familiarity with slack-key gives that type of Hawaiian music album an edge, commented Alan Yamamoto, a music industry veteran and former president of the Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts.
"The voters are very familiar with the material," said Yamamoto, who accompanies the Hawai'i contingent each year, arranging promotional appearances.
About 100 Hawai'i residents belong to the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and are eligible to vote for the Grammy awards. Mainland voters may also vote; it's estimated that up to 2,000 members vote for the Hawaiian music Grammy category.
Reach Wayne Harada at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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