The 25 Greatest Hawaii Albums of the New Century
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5) Aina Kupuna
Hoku Zuttermeister, 2007
"When’s Hoku going to do an album?” For years, that was a frequently asked question in Hawaiian music circles. Hoku Zuttermeister finally laid it to rest with this instant traditional Hawaiian classic. On each track, says the heartfelt Zuttermeister, “I tried to remember people that influenced me or played a role in my music.” On “Nani Na Pali Hauliuli O Na Koolau,” for instance, that was his great grandmother, the hula master Kaui Zuttermeister, whose halau kicked off each performance with this number.
6) One Of These Days
John Cruz, 2007
As a recording artist, John Cruz may not be prolific—a decade elapsed between Acoustic Soul, his first album, and this, his second—but he’s certainly a perfectionist. For this CD he settled into Jackson Browne’s Santa Monica recording studio, surrounded himself with some of L.A.’s top session players, and fully indulged his recording geek within. The result is soulful, folksy, bluesy and technically superb, yet seemingly effortless, with a sound that has more in common with 1970s Kalapana and Cecilio & Kapono than anything else in Hawaii music today.
7) Sweet & Lovely
Raiatea Helm, 2004
This follow-up to Helm’s celebrated debut, Far Away Heaven, solidified the young artist’s place in the Hawaiian music firmament. The album, whose title perfectly describes Helm’s high-voiced essence, won four Hoku awards, as well as a Grammy nomination—not bad for a 21-year-old from Molokai. On “‘Alika,” where Helm carries a high note for more than half a minute, she evokes the old-time mirthfulness of Genoa Keawe. On “Hui E,” Aunty Genoa actually jumps in with guest vocals.
Hear more from Israel Kamakawiwoole, Raiatea Helm, Brothers Cazimero and Kealii Reichel in our web exclusive video.
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