Hōkū awardees shine
By Kawehi Haug
Advertiser Staff Writer
The 33rd annual Nā Hōkū Hano- hano Awards — Hawai'i's version of the Grammys for locally produced music — commenced last night at the Hawai'i Convention Center, with long-time industry favorites and newly beloved performers being recognized for their contributions to the local music scene.
Amy Hānaiali'i walked away this year with her 16th Nā Hōkū award for best album of the year, for her 2009 album "Friends and Family of Hawai'i," a collaborative album, which features duets with notable local male musicians such as Henry Kapono, John Cruz and Nathan Awe'au, as well as a duet with country music star Willie Nelson.
"It's such an honor to have even been nominated," Hānaiali'i said. "Being nominated for a Hōkū means as much to me as being nominated for a Grammy. This album means so much to me because I had the opportunity to work with so many talented men. It just has a great strong male presence about it. I just feel so honored."
Hānaiali'i was nominated for five awards last night.
The biggest awards of the evening went to Mailani for female vocalist, Uncle Willie K for male vocalist, Jeff Peterson for slack key album of the year, Ho'okena for group of the year, and Uluwehi Guerrero for Hawaiian album of the year.
New-on-the-scene artist Anuhea got the prize for most promising new artist, as well as the award for best contemporary album, for her self-titled debut album.
"I feel especially honored because the Nā Hōkūs are awarded by my musical peers, and to get the award for promising new artist makes me want to continue to do my best, and keep on keeping on," Anuhea said.
'Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro received two awards — for best instrumental album for "Live," as well as the people's choice award for favorite entertainer of the year.
The ceremony kicked off with a Hollywood-style red carpet event, which included all of the fanfare that is expected of an awards show — fast-paced interviews, style chatter (Kapulanakehau Tamure of Na Palapalai wore a dramatic Sig Zane dress with a regal flair) and plenty of flash photography.
The ceremony itself was a sold-out, black-tie affair, punctuated by shrieks of support from fans, friends and family members cheering their favorite artists.
This year's ceremony for the first time was preceded by a four-day Hawaiian music festival, the Nā Hōkū O Hawai'i Music Festival. Proceeds financed an upgrade to the television broadcast of the awards ceremony.
International recording artists Mick Fleetwood and Kenny Loggins were guests at the festival and performed at the awards ceremony — along with a long roster of award nominees, such as Mailani, Nesian Nine, Anuhea, Hanaiali'i, Hapa and Henry Kapono.
One of the highlights was a collaborative rendition of reggae artist Matisyahu's peace anthem, "One Day," performed with an Island twist by Shimabukuro, Fleetwood, Loggins and Hapa's Barry Flanagan.
The Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts awarded 20 Na Hōkū awards during the ceremony.