Mailani's solo makeover


POSTED: Friday, July 03, 2009

Mailani Makainai has never presented herself as a Madonna-style entertainer, but with her first solo album she shows a similar skill of reinventing herself—or, from another perspective, revealing an entirely different side of her musical repertoire.

Makainai debuted as a recording artist in 2001 when she and Lei Melket introduced themselves as Keahiwai while still students at Maryknoll School. The duo hit big with their smooth harmonies, insightful lyrics, and light local pop sound that included radio-friendly reggae-style rhythms. Their first album, “;Local Girls,”; was a winner in two categories at the 2002 Hoku Awards, taking top honors in the Most Promising Artist(s) and Favorite Entertainer categories (the latter was decided by public vote).

When Keahiwai went on hiatus, Mailani joined Jenn “;JRoQ”; Wright and Tiare “;Tiki”; Suan to form Mighty J, an edgy and innovative trio with an urban/hip-hop edge that didn't get the commercial and popular attention it deserved.

Now she debuts again as a solo Hawaiian vocalist. All but three songs are sung in Hawaiian, and they all become more beautiful with repeated plays. The instrumental arrangements are reminiscent of Keahiwai but more diverse and elaborate; she worked with some excellent studio players!

One of the stand-out Hawaiian songs is “;Lei Aloha Lei Makamae.”; This Charles E. King classic has been recorded numerous times but to hear Mailani sing it—almost as a prayer—is to experience it anew.

“;Te Tiare,”; sung in French, gives the collection an international feel.

Keahiwai was known for songs about complicated personal relationships. Mailani adds two more songs to the list with new English-language originals—“;By Yourself”; and “;For The Day.”; Catchy rhythms and memorable lyric images should make “;By Yourself”; her point of entry for local English-language radio.

Watch for “;Mailani”; to be a contender at the Hoku Awards next year.

Read more about Mailani Makainai and her new solo album on Page 10.


(Mountain Apple Company)


;» ”;Penei Iho, Penei A’e, Penei No”;
;» ”;Ho’oheno Keia No Beauty”;
;» ”;By Yourself”;