[PICS] 2010 HARA Lifetime Achievement Awards
Legends honored at HCC
Photos by Dennis Oda / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts (HARA) presented their Lifetime Achievement Awards during the First Annual Na Hoku o Hawaii Music Festival at the Hawaii Convention Center on Saturday. Hokus were presented to George Kaiinapau, Jr., Rev. Ida Keliiokalani (Hanapi) Chun, the Isaacs Ohana, Boyce Kaihihikapuokalani Rodrigues and the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau. Above, Karen Aiu did an impromptu hula while in the crowd during the ceremonies.
By John Berger
A mele ma‘i (genital chant) by Ka‘upena Wong, performances by the three surviving children of Vickie I‘i Rodrigues and five of the seven surviving members of the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau, and a kolohe (risqué) hula by Kimo Alama Keaulana were highlight moments as the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts (HARA) presented the 2010 HARA Lifetime Achievement Awards on May 29 at the Hawaii Convention Center.
HARA has traditionally presented the Lifetime Achievement Awards in March, but scheduled them this year as part of the first annual Na Hoku o Hawai‘i Music Festival. The Festival opened with a reception/concert May 27 and concludes with the 2010 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards on May 30.
Approximately 700 family, friends, Hawaii music industry professionals and music fans turned out to celebrate the accomplishments of three individuals (Ida Keli‘iokalani Hanapi Chun, Boyce Kaihihikapuokalani Rodrigues and the late George Kainapau) one family (Alvin Isaacs and his three sons) and one group (the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau) for a total of 15 individual honorees.
Of the 52 living recipients from previous years — 50 recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award plus two recipients of its predecessor, the Sidney Grayson Award —nine attended the luncheon: Haunani Apoliona (who was honored for her work as a member of Olomana, 2008) Mahi Beamer (1991), Danny Kaleikini (1995), Eddie Kamae (twice, as a solo artist in 1992, and as a member of the Sons of Hawai‘i in 2009), Lydia Ludin (2003), Noelani Mahoe (2002), Nina Keali‘iwahamana Rapoza (1992), Marlene Sai (2004) and Ka‘upena Wong (2004).
Kimo Alama Keaulana, at right, and Lei Hulu played beautiful traditional Hawaiian music prior to the start of the formal program and then performed on behalf of Kainapau and the “Isaacs Ohana” of Alvin Isaacs Sr. and his sons Alvin Jr. (aka Barney), Norman and Leland (who was better known as “Atta”).
Keaulana turned the vocal responsibilities over to his steel guitarist, Paul Kim, during the Isaacs family segment and stepped forward to dance hula to “Nani Helena.” Few men currently dancing in Hawaii can equal Keaulana where kolohe (risqué) hula is concerned and he brought down the house.
Karen Keawehawai‘i, emcee of the program, also contributed to the Isaacs segment by quietly stepping forward to play ukulele with Lei Hulu while Keaulana was dancing. No one from the Kainapau family was present to accept the award on behalf of the falsetto master — in recounting Kainapau’s career, award-presenter Harry B. Soria Jr. recalled that he was equally accomplished singing Hawaiian style falsetto with the ha‘i (break) between his lower and upper registers or singing “American style” without the ha‘i.
The Isaacs ohana was represented by Barney’s widow, Cookie Isaacs, and Atta’s son, Harry.
Ida Keli‘i Chun, above, got a standing ovation as she went up to receive her Lifetime Achievement Award from HARA board member and immediate past president Hailama Farden. She also earned enthusiastic calls for a “hana hou” when she performed.
Boyce Rodrigues, above, was introduced by his sister, Nina Keali‘iwahamana Rapoza, who recalled their shared legacy as children of Vickie I‘i Rodrigues and his accomplishments as a singer, luau show entertainer, recording artist, emcee and proprietor of the famed Watertown nightclub across from Kaiser Hospital in Waikiki.
Rodrigues’ voice cracked as he thanked “my mother and father, and you, Hawaii — (for) playing with you, going to school with you, having a damned good time and getting drunk with you” but he was in his element entertaining the crowd with two of family songs, “Makee Ailana” and “Teve Teve.”
It was a tremendous performance. Rapoza invited their younger brother, John Rodrigues, to sing with them, and when it looked like the band might not be available she asked Mahi Beamer to play piano. Beamer went forward, and then Keaulana joined them with Lei Hulu members Chad Takatsugi (guitar) and Keola Chan (bass).
While Beamer and the other musicians were making their way to the stage, Keawehawai‘i recalled meeting Rodrigues when her parents took her to Watertown. He asked what she was drinking, she responded “Ginger ale,” and he exclaimed, “How the hell are you gonna have a good time with Ginger ale?”
Rodrigues opened “Makee Ailana” by explaining the things that had inspired his great-grandfather to write it. Hearing the story behind the song and then hearing him sing it was a rare moment. “Teve Teve” needed no introduction — and, although Rodrigues was seated and holding a microphone, the movements of his free hand conveyed the risqué kaona (hidden meaning) vividly.
Past and present members of the Makaha Sons at the HARA Lifetime Achievement Awards included, from left, Louis “Moon” Kauakahi, Jerome Koko, John Koko, Sam Gray, Mel Amina and Elmer “Sonny” Lim, Jr (known as Kohala when he was with the group).
AND THEN it was time to honor the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau.
This year HARA did it right. Every member of the group that recorded as a member of the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau was recognized.
That’s a lot better than honoring a group that was together for a relatively short time — especially when most of the members accomplished much more as solo artists. Or giving the award only to the current members of a group even though most of current members had never recorded with it — let alone made the recordings that were hits for the group 25 or 30 years ago.
Eddie Kamae insisted last year that if HARA was going to honor the Sons of Hawai‘i for the group’s “lifetime achievement” as recording artists, HARA would have to recognize every Son who had recorded with the group. Kamae got his way, and HARA followed that policy this year with the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau.
Six of the seven surviving members of the group were there for the ceremony. The three surviving members of the original recording group — Louis “Moon” Kauakahi, Jerome Koko and Sam Gray — were there. So were Mel Amina, John Koko and Elmer “Sonny” Lim Jr. (known as “Kohala” when he was recording with the Sons).
Only Abraham Nahulu was both absent and unrepresented. The Kamakawiwo‘ole brothers, Skippy and Israel, were represented by their widows, Leialoha Lim Amina (above right) and Marlene Kamakawiwo‘ole (above left), and they joined the surviving members of the group to receive the awards on behalf of their late husbands.
The guys then regrouped for a three-song reunion set. Amina played electric bass, Jerome Koko piano, and Kauakahi, Lim and John Koko guitar on “Kiss Me Love,” “Ka Pua E” and “My Yellow Ginger Lei.”
The harmonies were beautiful, as always, but this too was one of those “you shoulda been there” moments in Hawaiian music.
Donna Kamakawiwo‘ole Amina (also known as Leialoha Lim Amina), Johnette Keawehawai‘i and Marlene Kamakawiwo‘ole danced a hula as the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau played. Keawehawai‘i is the sister of Karen Keawehawai‘i; their father, John, wrote the song, “My Yellow Ginger Lei,” that the Makaha Sons played after accepting their Hokus.
Next come another one — something that wasn’t on the schedule.
Wong is also from the Westside, and he took the stage to congratulate his homies. He then told the audience — as only a kupuna of his credentials can — that he thought the show should break with traditional and end with a mele ma‘i.
Hawaii is fortunate these days anytime Wong chants or sings in public, and his rendition of “Ko Ma‘i Auka” honoring Prince Leleiohoku was no exception. Several Hawaiian-speakers seated close to the stage were so into the kaona they almost fell off their chairs.
Hailama Farden then announced another break with HARA tradition. It has become standard in recent years to close with “Hawai‘i Aloha,” he said, but, describing himself as being a bit more nationalistic than that, he asked the crowd to join him in singing the first verse of the national anthem of Hawaii, “Hawai‘i Pono‘i.”
“We’ll just sing the first verse this year,” he said. “But the king wrote three verses for a reason, so next year we’ll sing all three.”