Cut Grammy slack-key strings
ENOUGH with slack-key albums winning the Hawaiian Grammy Award.
For the third consecutive year since the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences created a category for best Hawaiian music album, ki hoalu has been king. And no small wonder. The sound of slack key is melodious and does offer a music unique to the islands -- without having to deal with that "foreign-sounding" Hawaiian language that mainland voters can't understand anyway.
HAWAII'S GRAMMY WINNERS
2005: "Slack Key Guitar Volume 2"
2006: "Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Volume 1"
2007: "Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar -- Live from Maui"
Well, I think it's about time we start educating those voters to appreciate other important -- namely vocal -- facets of our music, starting next year with an embargo on slack-key albums considered for Grammy nominations.
This is not to take away from the accomplishments of previous winners -- producers Charles Brotman and Daniel Ho and their excellent group of guitarists. Their wins helped break out and publicize Hawaiian music to a wider public.
But the initial giddiness of having a Grammy award category has passed, and we should be offering a complete slate of vocal recordings for consideration in '08.
WHILE it's understandable that the state, as a whole, would want to "make nice" and show a united front to the mainland music industry, those who understand Hawaii's rich musical heritage need to help show that the islands have more to offer musically than slack key, no matter how easy that genre is to market to the world.
One way to help educate mainland voters is to produce albums with helpful liner notes and English translations for the songs.
How much longer do we want our music to be recognized mainly as "just slack key" to music lovers everywhere, let alone Grammy voters?
We have celebrated albums made by many previous Grammy nominees -- local favorites such as the Brothers Cazimero, Henry Kapono, Keali'i Reichel, Ho'okena, Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom and Raiatea Helm. Artists like these should also have their moment in the Grammy spotlight in years to come.
So I ask, as means of ensuring the future of all forms of Hawaiian music at the Grammys -- let's nominate recordings that aren't predominantly slack key. For one year, at least.