Isle musicians hail
Hawaiian Grammy
as win for all

And the winner is ... Hawaii.

The local music industry yesterday celebrated the first nominees for the new Hawaiian music Grammy Award.

"Just imagine, a little category like Hawaiian music for us here in the middle of the Pacific," said Robert Cazimero, who along with younger brother Roland was nominated yesterday for the inaugural best Hawaiian music album award. "I think that's pretty cool."

Five nominees were announced for the new category of best Hawaiian Music Album: The Brothers Cazimero for "Some Call It Aloha ... Don't Tell"; Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom and Willie K for "Amy and Willie Live"; Ho'okena for "Cool Elevation"; Keali'i Reichel for "Ke'alaokamaile"; and Various Artists for "Slack Key Guitar Volume Two."

"It's a really nice mix," said Jon de Mello, who lobbied for the Hawaiian category for years as founder of Mountain Apple Co., one of Hawaii's largest music labels. "It's a really nice representation of Hawaiian music."

De Mello said the Grammys would recognize Hawaiian music's contributions.

"It's a good thing for Hawaii," Cazimero said. "Behind all of us stand all these musicians and dancers and entertainers. It's a nice nod to them."

Gov. Linda Lingle congratulated the nominees in a statement, saying, "This strengthens our resolve to support the development of new opportunities for our local artists and their music ..."

Hawaiian albums were already eligible for Grammys, primarily through the traditional folk and contemporary folk awards. The individual category gives it a new level of exposure, and state officials are optimistic about the doors it may open.

"This will affect Hawaiian music forever, and create new audiences for Hawaiian music around the world," said Ted Liu, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

But De Mello said Hawaii will be the real winner when the Grammys are handed out Feb. 13 in Los Angeles.

"What it is, it draws attention," he said. "Whoever really gets this award, all five of them won it."

Grammy Awards

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