Keao Costa held one of the five Hoku awards won by Na Palapalai during last night's awards. Onstage with him were Kehau Costa, left, and Kuana Torres.

Tradition reigns

Contemporary sounds
receive little recognition at
Na Hoku Hanohano Awards

By the time Go Jimmy Go took the stage at the 2003 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards last night, the group already knew that Kalapana had beaten them in the Rock Album category and they'd be going home empty-handed. Hawaii's top ska band rocked hard anyway as token representatives of all the local recording acts who play and record "non-Hawaiian" music, and gave the show and those still paying attention after four hours a welcome hint of the diversity of music that Hawaii has to offer.

Jake Shimabukuro gave the thumbs up after winning the award for Instrumental Album of the Year. With him was his manager, Kazusa Flanagan. Shimabukuro thanked his mother for always encouraging him to "believe in what you do."

There were other memorable performances as well. Na Leo, shut out awards-wise for the first time in memory, was joined on stage early in the evening by the Hilo Kalimas for what was perhaps the single most exquisite number in the show. Raiatea Helm shared her Hawaiian falsetto magic with backing from Ho'okena and Nathan Aweau personified simplicity as he entertained with Buddy Fo providing acoustic support on congas.

Raiatea Helm, winner of the Most Promising Artist Award, peformed during the show.

Cecilio & Kapono, who celebrate their 30th anniversary next month, looked and sounded great in the final performance segment, but by that time much of the crowd was gone.

Biggest winner of the night was producer Shawn Pimental of Koops 2, whose franchise act, Na Palapalai, won in five categories, including Group of the Year and Album of the Year, while label mates Three Plus won the Reggae Album category.

As first-time winners, each member of Na Palapalai clearly relished every opportunity to speak at the podium. Pimental added a few succinct comments when he joined them to accept the Hoku for Album of the Year.

Traditional Hawaiian acts such as Na Palapalai won in almost every possible category. Kalapana (Rock Album) and Danny Couch (Contemporary Album) were as mainstream as it got in the winners' circle last night.

Kalapana members Gaylord Holomalia and D.J. Pratt shared a second Hoku with Troy Gonzalez as co-engineers of the group's winning "Blue Album." Veteran record producer Don McDiarmid Jr., Raiatea Helm, Nathan Aweau and Jake Shimabukuro also received two Hokus apiece.

Helm, named Female Vocalist of the Year at Johnny Kai's 6th Annual Hawai'i Music Awards last month, has now been voted Female Vocalist of the Year by the Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts as well.

Award presenters and winners alike contributed memorable moments at the podium. Genoa Keawe wondered if the envelope had been sealed with super glue. Frank DeLima slipped a commercial plug into his comments as he announced Augie Tulba as the winner in the Comedy category. Tulba read his acceptance speech off a sheet of paper that displayed a plea to listen to his morning radio show.

Mihana Souza -- whose first solo album, "Rust on the Moon," won in the Jazz category -- spoke movingly of her late mother, Irmgard Farden Aluli, who composed the title song. "It's in her memory that I accept this, and in her name."

Marlene Sai, left, and Genoa Keawe celebrated onstage during the singing of "Hawai'i Aloha" at the end of the show.

Jake Shimabukuro thanked his mother for always encouraging him to "believe in what you do."

Ki Ho'alu Award recipient John Keawe spoke with quiet dignity, but few heard what he had to say because his was one of the 10 awards that the HARA Board deemed unworthy of live television time. The new Moe Keale "Aloha Is" Award for Community Service was among the others announced before the start of the telecast while the crowd was loudly feeding. The Bill Murata Memorial Scholarship recipients weren't even allowed to address those present. This is shameful.

There is no excuse for denying any category winner the opportunity to receive their Hoku Award and say their thanks during the live broadcast. Cut two of the 12 performance segments, and trim the others by a minute or less, and there would be time enough to give each award the honor and respect it deserves.

And, again like last year, the presenter introductions and video biographies from the separate Lifetime Achievement Awards show were recycled during the television broadcast, although the recipients weren't allowed to speak. It's not necessarily bad to recycle the segments, since relatively few people attend the non-televised separate show in March, but handing out five Lifetime Achievement Awards each year reduces the significance of the honor. Two per year would be more than enough.


And the winners are...

Here are the 2003 Na Hoku Hanohano Award winners announced last night:

>> Album of the Year: "Makani 'Olu'olu," Na Palapalai (Koops 2)
>> Group of the Year: Na Palapalai for "Makani 'Olu'olu" (Koops 2)
>> Female Vocalist of the Year: Raiatea Helm for "Far Away Heaven" (Rip Tide)
>> Male Vocalist of the Year: Nathan Aweau for "E Apo Mai" (B.P. Music Arts)
>> Single of the Year: "Aloha," Mana'o Company & Friends
>> Religious Album of the Year: "God is in Control," Randy & Gay Hongo (Christian Vision)
>> Christmas Album of the Year: "A Kanaka Christmas," Sean Na'auao (Poi Pounder)
>> Hawaiian Album of the Year: "Makani 'Olu'olu," Na Palapalai (Koops 2)
>> Contemporary Album of the Year: "Something to Remember," Danny Couch (Danny Couch)
>> Reggae Album of the Year: "For You," Three Plus (Koops 2)
>> Island Contemporary Album of the Year: "Wahine Slack 'n Steel," Owana Salazar (Moonbow)
>> Comedy Album of the Year: "Locally Disturbed," Augie Tulba (KDE)
>> Haku Mele: "Pili Kapekepeke" by Julian Ako from "Makani 'Olu'olu," Na Palapalai (Koops 2)
>> Rock Album of the Year: "Blue Album," Kalapana (OceanBeat)
>> Song of the Year: "E Apo Mai" by Nathan Aweau from "E Apo Mai" (B.P. Music Arts)
>> Jazz Album of the Year: "Rust on the Moon," I. Mihana (I M Recordings)
>> Most Promising Artist(s): Raiatea Helm for "Far Away Heaven" (Rip Tide)
>> Hawaiian Language Performance: Na Palapalai for "Makani 'Olu'olu" (Koops 2)
>> Instrumental Album of the Year: "Sunday Morning," Jake Shimabukuro (Four Strings)
>> Compilation Album of the Year: "Aloha Festivals Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners III," various artists, Donald P. "Flip" McDiarmid, III, William Baba Alimoot, Charles Michael Brotman, Chance Gardner, Janet Hyrne, Steve Kramer, Cody Pueo Pata, Jake Rohrer, Frank Shaner, Lynn Martin and Randy Sugata, producers (Hula)
>> Anthology Album of the Year: "Don McDiarmid Jr. Presents Hula Records' Hits!," various artists (Hula), Don McDiarmid Jr., producer
>> Liner Notes: Don McDiarmid Jr. for "Don McDiarmid, Jr. Presents Hula Records' Hits!," various artists (Hula)
>> Graphics: Brian Onaga for "Origins/Kinohi," 'Ale'a (Poki)
>> Engineering: Gaylord Holomalia, DJ Pratt and Troy Gonzalez for "Blue Album," Kalapana (OceanBeat)
>> Lifetime Achievement Award: Lydia Ludin, Buddy Fo, Linda Dela Cruz, Raymond Kane, Jerry Byrd
>> Moe Keale "Aloha Is" Award for Community Service: Frank DeLima
>> Ki Ho'alu Award: John Keawe
>> Bill Murata Memorial Scholarship: Uilani Bobbitt from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Puakahiki Kaui Lauano from UH-Hilo
>> Favorite Entertainer of the Year: Jake Shimabukuro

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