Reichel's debut album earns gold status
Keali'i Reichel has gone gold.
Reichel's 1994 debut album, "Kawaipunahele," was officially certified gold -- with sales of more than 500,000 copies -- by the Record Industry Association of America. The milestone was achieved in November, but Reichel received his official "gold record" during a concert on his home island of Maui on Friday.
Alaka'i Paleka, program director at Maui radio station KPOA-FM, made the presentation just before intermission.
Jim Linkner, a longtime member of Reichel's Punahele Productions management team, said yesterday that Reichel knew the company was conducting the sales audits and other paperwork necessary for RIAA certification, but he wasn't sure it was going to happen, "and he didn't know when."
Given Reichel's sensitivity to the traditions of Hawaiian etiquette, Linkner added, there was considerable discussion within Punahele Productions as to whether he might feel it was more appropriate to receive the award privately.
And even though Reichel "doesn't like surprises" on stage, Linkner said, everything went well.
The award makes Reichel the third Hawaii recording artist to strike gold. "Don Ho's Greatest Hits" was certified by the RIAA in 2001, and the late Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole received gold records for "Facing Future" in 2002 and "Alone in IZ World" in 2005. Kamakawiwo'ole became the first -- and thus far only -- Hawaiian artist to reach platinum status when "Facing Future" sold more than 1 million copies in 2005.
Linkner said it took two audits over a period of almost a year to fulfill the requirements for the RIAA certification.
"Kawaipunahele" contains eight Hawaiian songs, including the Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning title song, and Reichel's remakes of four English-language pop hits -- "In My Life," "Wanting Memories," "Come Sail Away" and "If We Hold on Together."
It is one of three Reichel albums to win album of the year awards at the Hokus. Reichel has several additional Hoku Awards for his work as a composer, producer and liner notes writer.
In a statement issued by his publicist yesterday, Reichel said he was grateful to all those who supported his music. "As a Hawaiian, I hope that this can serve as an example of what we can achieve when we work hard to bring forward the intellects and creativity of our kupuna in this modern world. Our goal has always been to bring pride and honor to our people."