Hawaiʻi’s Highly Entertaining and Star-Studded Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards

By Lynn Cook

Natalie Ai Kamauu performs at the 2016 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

Pop music, rock and roll, country and western – nearly every style of music is celebrated in awards events, all across the United States. Hawaiʻi is no exception. Every spring, since 1978, the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards have celebrated Hawaiʻi’s music and musicians. A dozen of these Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winners have gone on to be nominated for Grammy’s. Several have even won.

2016 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. Photo: Mele Mei.

Similar to the Grammy’s, the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards show is star-studded and highly entertaining, with memorable match-up performances by top artists and emotionally charged award moments. “The Hōkūs,” as the event is affectionately known, bring together local artists across all genres, from iconic slack key guitar to jazz and reggae. Hawaiʻi’s most promising new artists get the chance to rub shoulders with the legends of Hawaiian music. The Hōkūs are a celebration of the people and sounds that embody Hawaiʻi’s classic beauty and dynamic culture.

How to Watch the Show

Cyril Pahinui (third from left) and friends at the 2015 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. Photo: Mele Mei.

Cyril Pahinui (third from left) and friends at the 2015 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. Photo: Mele Mei.

On the Saturday night of the live show, Hawaiʻi’s music industry folk fill the ballroom of the Hawaiʻi Convention Center, each decked out in their finest Hawaiian apparel. The pre show for the Annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards begins early, at 4 p.m. as the stars arrive and step onto the red carpet for photo-ops. From 7 – 10 pm, or later, K5 – The Home Team will televise the awards event live for the thousands who sit, glued to their couch, watching from home. Tickets are sold at www.melemei.com, 808-593-9424.

Hawaiian Music in the Grammy’s

Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

Kamaka Kukona speaks after winning the 2014 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Male Vocalist of the Year. He was also a 2015 Grammy Awards nominee. Photo: Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

The list of award categories is similar to, and as long as, the list for the Grammy Awards. Many Nā Hōkū winning musicians go on to be nominated and are winners of a Grammy. For a time the entrants were in the Grammy category solely for Hawaiian Music. In 2012 that category was combined into Best Regional Roots Music, a general catch-all category for ethnic music. Hawaiʻi’s artists continue to be well represented with a Hawaiian music representative announced yearly in the final five contestants on Grammy night.

Outstanding Live Shows

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmUxYAMzGcQ

During Mele Mei, translating to May Hawaiian music month in Hawaiian, it would be hard to find a hotel, showroom, shopping mall stage or corner eatery with a microphone that isn’t featuring Hawaiian music – from the ancient chant that accompanies hula to the hip-hop-Jawaiian rock of contemporary Hawaiian musicians.

For the most up to date event information, please visit the Mele Mei website.

2017 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards Results

The islands’ version of the Grammy Awards, the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards celebrated 40 years recognizing local performers in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 1,500, Saturday, May 20, 2017 at the Hawai’i Convention Center. More than 170 finalists competed for top honors this year in 34 categories.

“It was an unforgettable night toasting to 40 years of this award show that celebrates and brings much-deserved recognition to Hawai’i’s amazing musical artists,” said Pali Ka’aihue, president of the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts. “From show-stopping performances by true legends in Hawai’i music to recognizing our up-and-coming talent it was an evening we will not soon forget.”

Among those awarded, this year’s top winners were Keauhou – the trio of Jonah Kahanuola Solatorio, Nicholas Keali‘i Lum and Zachary Alaka’i Lum — who earned awards in nine categories in connection with their debut album “Keauhou.”

A full list of this yearʻs Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards recipients include:

GENERAL CATEGORIES

ALBUM OF THE YEAR: KEAUHOU¸ Keauhou (Keauhou) Keauhou – producers

SINGLE OF THE YEAR: “MOLOKA’I ON MY MIND,” Blayne Asing (Asing A Song)

SONG OF THE YEAR: “HANOHANO HA’IKŪ” by Zachary Alaka’i Lum from Keauhou, Keauhou (Keauhou)

EP (“EXTENDED PLAY”) OF THE YEAR: ALO I KE ALO, Mailani (Hā Enterprises)

INSTRUMENTAL COMPOSITION (Composer’s award): “KI HO’ALU,” by Cyril Pahinui from HI’ILAWE, Cyril Pahinui (Pahinui Productions)

FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: RA’IĀTEA HELM, He Leo Huali, “A Pure Voice” (Ra’iātea Helm Records)

MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: JOSH TATOFI, Pua Kiele (Bu-Print Records)

GROUP OF THE YEAR: KEAUHOU, Keauhou (Keauhou)

MOST PROMISING ARTIST OF THE YEAR: KEAUHOU, Keauhou (Keauhou)

GENRE CATEGORIES

ANTHOLOGY OF THE YEAR (Producer’s Award): KAMAKA UKULELE PRESENTS: KEEP STRUMMING! CELEBRATING 100 YEARS, Various Artists (Kamaka Hawai’i) Kamaka Hawai’i, Inc. – producers

CONTEMPORARY ALBUM OF THE YEAR: E WALEA, Kalani Pe’a (Kalani Pe’a Music)

ISLAND MUSIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR: PUA KIELE, Josh Tatofi (Bu-Print Records)

RELIGIOUS ALBUM OF THE YEAR: RIGHTEOUS SON RIZE, Rupert Tripp, Jr. (RTJ Music)

HAWAIIAN MUSIC ALBUM OF THE YEAR: KEAUHOU, Keauhou (Keauhou)

INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR: WAHI PANA, SONGS OF PLACE, Jeff Peterson (Peterson Productions)

ALTERNATIVE ALBUM OF THE YEAR: KUKAHI, Kukahi Lee (Makalii Productions)

CHRISTMAS ALBUM OF THE YEAR: MAUI SLACK KEY CHRISTMAS, George Kahumoku, Jr. (Kealia Farms Records)

COMPILATION ALBUM OF THE YEAR: MELE FROM AUNTY’S BEACH HOUSE AULANI, A DISNEY RESORT AND SPA, Various Artists (Walt Disney Records) Kenneth Makuakāne – producer

HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY ALBUM OF THE YEAR: HI’ILAWE, Cyril Pahinui (Pahinui Productions)

HIP HOP ALBUM OF THE YEAR: LOVE’S HERETIC, Tantra (no label)

COMEDY ALBUM or COMEDY DVD OF THE YEAR: I AM A BAD DECISION, Brandi Morgan (Pass Out Records)

JAZZ ALBUM OF THE YEAR: BETWEEN THE MUSIC AND THE MOON, Maggie Herron (Herron Song Records)

MUSIC DVD OF THE YEAR: HAWAII ALOHA – SONG ACROSS HAWAII, Various Artists (Mana Maoli)

REGGAE ALBUM OF THE YEAR: TALES OF THE FRUIT STAND MYSTIC, Kanekoa (no label)

ROCK ALBUM OF THE YEAR: OVERTHROW, THE, Nesta (no label)

‘UKULELE ALBUM OF THE YEAR: JUS’ PRESS, VOL. 2, Led Kaapana (Jus’ Press)

TECHNICAL CATEGORIES

GRAPHICS AWARD: KAWIKANUI KAHELE for KU’U PUA SAKURA, Hōkū Zuttermeister (Kaleiola Records)

LINER NOTES: ZACHARY ALAKAʻI LUM for KEAUHOU, Keauhou (Keauhou)

ADJUCTED CATEGORIES

HAKU MELE AWARD: “HANOHANO HA’IKŪ” by Zachary Alakaʻi Lum from KEAUHOU, Keauhou (Keauhou)

HAWAIIAN LANGUAGE PERFORMANCE AWARD: KEAUHOU, Keauhou (Keauhou)

INTERNATIONAL ALBUM SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD: MY FAVORITE THINGS, Ukulele Swing Trio (JB Music)

HAWAIIAN ENGINEERING AWARD: DAVE TUCCIARONE for HE LEO HUALI, “A PURE VOICE,” Ra’iātea Helm (Ra’iātea Helm Records)

GENERAL ENGINEERING AWARD: DAVID KAUAHIKAUA for WHENEVER YOU COME AROUND, A Touch of Gold (Kuleana Breakfast Club)

FAVORITE ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR: KEAUHOU

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