The 25 Greatest Hawaii Albums of the New Century
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Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole, 2008
Representing the youngest generation of the renowned Kanakaole clan, Kaumakaiwa combines fluent Hawaiian-language composition skills with a willingness to experiment with modern musical forms. Jon de Mello, the album’s executive producer, says, “I’ve always said that he’s 1,000 years ago, and 1,000 years ahead. As traditional as the Kanakaole family is, they’re really edgy. They love to push the envelope.” This album, the artist’s second, doesn’t try to get by on novelty, though; one of its most electric moments, “‘Aina Po,” is a propulsive, acapella chant.
9) Ka Lehua Ula
Weldon Kekauoha, 2007
"For my first two albums, I was trying to figure out who I am as an artist,” says musician Weldon Kekauoha. When he started in 1999, he played it safe by incorporating both contemporary and traditional songs to “cover his bases.” For this, his third album, though, he went for a mostly Hawaiian selection. “I realized you can’t fit into anyone’s idea of traditional music,” he says. “For example, I consider hapa-haole songs to be traditional, too.” Contemporary songs such as “On the Beach at Waikiki” and “Thank You Lord” may be in English, but his steel guitar and ukulele put them right home in the Islands.
10) Spread A Little Aloha
The Manao Company, 2001
Producer Dave Tucciarone’s favorite track on this album is “Aloha,” which won Song of the Year at the 2002 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, so it’s hard to believe that bandmember Danny Kennedy had doubts about even including the song. “He wasn’t sure if it was too light in comparison to the rest of the album,” says Tucciarone. But after Kennedy sang the first lines of the chorus for him (“A-L-O-H-A, a little aloha in our day, spread a little aloha around the world”), Tucciarone knew it was a hit.
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