Grammy Awards to add
Hawaiian music category

Next year's Grammy Awards will include a Best Hawaiian Music Album category, state officials say, ending a 15-year effort to get the music industry's most prestigious ceremony to recognize Hawaiian recordings.

The Grammy's organizer -- the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences -- will not make an official announcement until next week, but separate releases from two state agencies and a local music company yesterday acknowledged the new award.

Isle musicians hit the road again

Officials at the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism are planning a follow-up to last year's "Aloha Live" tour that featured performers Willie K. and Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom.

The 2004 tour is scheduled to run from June to August in 20 U.S. and Asian cities that have direct flights to Hawaii.

Prominent local musicians would be part of the tour that would include radio and TV interviews offered at each tour stop, and a television ad campaign by the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau.

The new category will be included in the upcoming 47th Annual Grammy Awards in February, and, according to The Mountain Apple Co., "will include the final nominations from new Hawaiian music recordings released between Oct. 1, 2003, and Sept. 30, 2004."

The Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists has tried to get NARAS to add a Hawaiian music category to the Grammy Awards, specifically through the Seattle-based Pacific Northwest chapter of the organization. The Mountain Apple release said the local industry has pushed for the recognition for 15 years.

In a statement released earlier in the day yesterday, NARAS' board of trustees said that at meetings this week at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel in Kona, they discussed "one key item of importance to the local Hawaiian music community ... the addition of a new category for the 47th Grammy Awards: Best Hawaiian Music Album category."

Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists President Alan Yamamoto said: "We were hoping this would happen. There's been a lot of steps along the way -- getting enough members from Hawaii to join the Seattle chapter, making sure there were enough releases in the qualifying year -- to convince them there was enough support to sustain this category.

"There's still going to be a lot of discussion on what the category could be, in terms of Hawaiian language components, and whether to include instrumental tracks. We'll find out when NARAS' statement comes out."

Mountain Apple owner and Chief Executive Officer Jon de Mello said: "It's a good day for the Hawaiians, and it's letting the genie out of the bottle for Hawaiian music. The genie is the aloha spirit. Music is the carrier of aloha."

Gov. Linda Lingle's office and the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism both issued statements praising the new award category.

"This historic Grammy category for Hawaiian music will bring much deserved attention to our multi-talented performers and help expand our local music industry," the governor said. "This strengthens our resolve to support the development of new opportunities for our performers and their music."

Mike Kelly, vice president and general manager of Cox Radio, noted that "it would be wonderful for the Hawaiian music industry, and everyone involved in it, to get that kind of recognition nationally."

"Latin music started out as just one category, and now it has its own TV show for the Latin Grammys," Kelly said. "I don't know Hawaiian music would do quite that but, still, it's real exciting."


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