Na Palapalai members Kuana Torres, left, Keao Costa and Kahu Tamure took home awards for Hawaiian Album and Group of the Year last night at the 28th Annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Raiatea Helm takes
top honors

Traditional Hawaiian music prevails
again at the annual contest

Last night was one to remember for Raiatea Helm as the Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts announced the winners of the 28th annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom.

The Molokai-born Hawaiian falsetto singer won four Hokus for her album "Sweet & Lovely," including Female Vocalist of the Year and Favorite Entertainer of the Year.

It was Helm's second win as Female Vocalist but her first as Favorite Entertainer, the only category whose winner is determined by public vote.

Helm's album also won in two of the three technical categories as Mele McPherson took top honors in graphics and Dave Tucciarone won for engineering. Kawaikapuokalani Hewett won the third technical category, liner notes, with the annotation for "Ulu Kau."

Kimo Alama Keaulana swept the two adjudicated categories, in which the winners are determined by a panel versed in writing poetic Hawaiian. Keaulana's long-awaited album "Hula Lives!" won for Hawaiian Language Performance. "Kinoiki Kekaulike," a song from the album, won in the Haku Mele category.

"Our language is the most beautiful language in the world, and receiving this award is the most beautiful thing that could happen to anyone in this room," Keaulana said as he accepted the Hawaiian Language Performance award.

Perennially popular Na Palapalai won in the Hawaiian Album and Group of the Year categories. It was the second time the trio has won in those categories.

Jake Shimabukuro won his third straight Hoku in the Instrumental category, and Brittni Paiva became the third woman in a row to win Most Promising Artist.

Genoa Keawe, who won the Moe Keale "Aloha Is" Award for Community Service, told the crowd of about 1,100: "God loves us, and He has blessed each of us with a gift. Love and music have been my gifts all my life."

Overall, it was another year in which traditional Hawaiian music prevailed over other music styles. Jawaiian, reggae, jazz, hapa-haole, pop and rock artists won only in their genre categories, and even then the HARA membership generally voted for the most Hawaiian finalists in those categories.

Ekolu prevailed over Fiji and O-Shen in reggae; Owana Salazar, over the Steve Jones Collective in jazz; David Kamakahi, over Na Leo and Henry Kapono in contemporary; and Paiva, over Jordon Segundo for Most Promising Artist.

In several categories the voters appeared to be voting with their hearts. The late Wendell Warrington won in the religious category, and a posthumously produced collection of recordings by Dennis Pavao won him Male Vocalist honors.

Eddie Kamae's importance as a major figure in the history of modern Hawaiian music was acknowledged with two awards for an otherwise mediocre album of material seemingly culled at random from the Sons of Hawaii archives.

Radio deejay Makani of Island 98.5 FM and local Heineken sales representative Dave Lokar provided one of the more peculiar moments at the event, which was telecast on KFVE. Before announcing the winner in the Reggae Album of the Year category, the two presenters praised and then drank Heineken beer at the podium.


The winners list

Liner Notes: Kawaikapuokalani Hewett for "Ulu Kau," Kawaikapuokalani Hewett

Graphics: Mele McPherson for "Sweet & Lovely," Raiatea Helm

Compilation Album of the Year: "Hula! Big Island Style," various artists (Palm), Charles Michael Brotman, producer

Anthology Album: "Eddie Kamae -- Sons of Hawaii," Eddie Kamae & the Sons of Hawaii (Hawaii Sons), Hawaii Sons, producer

Engineering: Dave Tucciarone for "Sweet & Lovely," Raiatea Helm

Contemporary Album: "Pa'ani," David Kamakahi

Reggae Album: "Back to the Valley -- The 3rilogy," Ekolu

Hawaiian Language Performance: Kimo Alama Keaulana

Contemporary Hawaiian Album: "Kaulupono," 'Ale'a

Religious Album: "A Few More Drops," Wendell Warrington

Hawaiian Album: "Ke 'Ala Beauty," Na Palapalai

Rock Album: "Under a Native Moon," Sugah Daddy

Jazz Album: "Hula Jazz," Owana Salazar

Haku Mele: "Kinoiki Kekaulike," by Kimo Alama Keaulana, from "Hula Lives!"

Most Promising Artist(s): Brittni Paiva for "Brittni X3"

Song of the Year: "'Ala Anuhea," by Robert Cazimero, from "Some Call It Aloha ... Don't Tell," Brothers Cazimero

Instrumental Album: "Walking Down Rainhill," Jake Shimabukuro

Female Vocalist: Raiatea Helm, "Sweet & Lovely"

Male Vocalist: Dennis Pavao, "Golden Voice of Hawaii"

Group of the Year: Na Palapalai, "Ke 'Ala Beauty"

Favorite Entertainer: Raiatea Helm

Album of the Year: "Eddie Kamae -- Sons of Hawaii," Eddie Kamae & the Sons of Hawaii (Hawaii Sons), Hawaii Sons, producer

Ki Ho'Alu Award: Dennis Kamakahi

Moe Keale "Aloha Is" Award for Community Service: Genoa Keawe

Bill Murata Memorial Scholarship Recipients: Kaiwipuni Anthony of Kaneohe and Kahokuokekai Kanake'e'aina of Hilo

Lifetime Achievement Awards: Melveen Leed, Jesse Kalima, Kealoha Kalama, Bill Ali'iloa Lincoln and Hui Ohana

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