3 New Albums from Hawai‘i Musicians to Listen to Right Now
Award-winning artists bring music and message together in a mix of new albums for holiday gifts and beyond.
Photos: Island Heritage and Antonio Agosto for Kalani Pe‘a
Kalani Pe‘a burst onto the national music scene last year when he won a Grammy Award for Best Regional Roots Music album. The Hilo native, who now lives on Maui, hasn’t slowed down: He’s touring, writing and released his sophomore album this year. No ‘Ane‘i (We Belong Here), entered Billboard’s World Album chart at No. 11 in August. It includes eight compositions that Pe‘a wrote or co-wrote, showing off his impressive range, a blend of traditional and pop. He penned a sweet ode to his grandmother, “Kahunani No ‘Ōla‘a.” The title track was composed for the Hawaiian immersion public charter school he attended, Ke Kula ‘o Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u in Puna. And who can resist the playful “‘Elala He Inoa” (joined by Ho‘okena and Moon Kauakahi), in which Pe‘a describes how battles with such everyday pests as B-52 roaches and centipedes can discourage us yet we rally and persevere.
In 1984, the musical trio of Nalani Jenkins, Lehua Kalima and Angela Morales won the high school Brown Bags to Stardom contest with their sassy and controversial song, “Local Boys.” Since then, they’ve released more than 20 albums and are credited as the best-selling female Hawaiian music group in the world. The latest, their first in seven years, includes four original songs. They include an upbeat title track, the sweet “My Favorite Place” and a cover of “What the World Needs Now” with ‘ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro. “We all turned 50 a couple of years ago, and it’s an interesting stage of life … we feel stronger and happier than ever,” Jenkins says. Sony Music plans to launch the CD in Japan next year, along with a limited run on vinyl. “Our only other album released on vinyl was the original, ‘Local Boys,’” she says.
Ua Kō, Ua ‘Āina
Released in October, Ua Kō, Ua ‘Āina is the final installment of Keauhou’s three-album suite. The trio is Jonah Kahanuola Solatorio and brothers Nicholas and Zachary Lum, all educators and graduates of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama and passionate about performing and perpetuating traditional Hawaiian music. Their first two albums, Keauhou and I Ke Ko A Ke Au, together garnered 15 Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards. The latest stays true to the voyaging theme, this time celebrating a journey completed. The collection includes four new compositions and nine seldom-heard mele. Standout tracks include: John Almeida’s “Lei Pua Melia,” celebrating the beauty of plumeria on May Day; and originals “Waikalua” and “Ku‘u Liko Lehua,” a soulful, smoky song.
$15.99 each. Find all three artists at islandheritagemusic.com.