Maui’s 2017 Na Hoku Hanohano Nominees

Molokai’s gifted Ra‘iatea Helm. Photo courtesy the artist

With the 2017 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards ceremony taking place on Saturday evening on Oahu, expectations are high for many of our Maui County musicians who released memorable albums in 2016, and have been nominated in all major categories.

As a Grammy winner this year for his wonderful debut album, “E Walea,” Kalani Pe’a is likely to be a big winner on Saturday. This soulful artist received nine nominations including Male Vocalist, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Haku Mele and Most Promising Artist. With seven original compositions plus a handful of favorite classics, Kalani crafted an exceptional treasure trove of contemporary Hawaiian music.

Molokai’s Ra’iatea Helm received six nominations for her lovely album “He Leo Huali, ‘A Pure Voice.’ “ She’s up for Female Vocalist, Album of the Year, Hawaiian Music Album, Favorite Entertainer, Hawaiian Language Performance, plus Liner Notes. This gifted singer’s latest album features traditional Hawaiian, hapa-haole, contemporary and new compositions.

“It is my kuleana to make sure that Hawaiian music is alive and well, now and beyond my generation,” she says.

Multi-Hoku winner Amy Haniali’i is nominated for Female Vocalist, Hawaiian Music Album, Favorite Entertainer for her latest album “Remembering Napua,” plus a nod for Engineering Award. This album is a delightful collection paying homage to a golden time of Hawaiian music.

Ukulele-powered Hawaiian reggae-fusion rock band Kanekoa. Photo courtesy the artist

“I chose these songs as a tribute to my grandmother Napua Wood, the biggest influence in my life,” says Amy.

Classics include “Henehene Kou Aka,” “Akaka Falls” and “Pua Tuberose.”

Maui’s slack key guitar master George Kahumoku Jr. is nominated for Hawaiian Slack Key Album and Christmas Album. “Maui Slack Key Christmas” is a collection of holiday songs featuring four originals, plus some of George’s favorite traditional hymns, and Christmas classics.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing Hawaiian Christmas and religious songs,” says George.

And “Kahumoku — Priest of the Land” comprises a collection of original songs written for loved ones, dear friends and special places.

Slack-key virtuoso Jeff Peterson. T.K. Hunt photo

“These songs are a reflection of ‘aina aloha (love for the land) that has been a theme for me for my entire life,” he says.

A virtuoso guitarist adept at many styles, Jeff Peterson is up for Favorite Entertainer, Instrumental Album for “Wahi Pana, Songs of Place,” and Instrumental Composition for the seven-minute “Concerto for Slack Key Guitar and Orchestra, Malama ‘Aina 2nd Movement” (featuring the Raleigh Civic Chamber Orchestra). A dazzling work, “Wahi Pana,” showcases his versatility with original classical pieces, Hawaiian, rock (Hendrix’s “Little Wing”), island favorites (“Honolulu City Lights”), and jazz standards (“Stolen Moments” with Benny Chong). Jeff won the 2016 Slack Key and Instrumental Composition Hoku Awards.

Maui’s super talented “ukulele- powered Hawaiian reggae-fusion rock band” Kanekoa is nominated for Reggae Album for “Tales of the Fruit Stand Mystic.” From the smooth reggae of the opening “Quiet Invitation” and the infectious groove of “Hypnotized” (featuring Vince Esquire’s brilliant uke playing), to the epic Dead-like jungle jam of the 10-minute “Nahiku,” Kanekoa shines throughout.

Matagi (featuring Marvin Tevaga) is nominated for Contemporary Album for the group’s impressive debut recording, “Valley Isle.” The catchy island-style reggae of the title track was composed by Marvin while preparing to serve a church mission in New Zealand.

Mixing Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian and island contemporary sounds, “Valley Isle” includes covers of Elvis’ classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” and a tribute to Ernie Cruz Jr. with “You Don’t Write.”

Island-style reggae artists Maoli are just a few of the 2017 Na Hoku Hanohano nominees with Maui roots. Photo courtesy the artist

Former HAPA musician Ron Kuala’au teamed with his cousin Zanuck Lindsey (of Kapala and Hula Joe & the Hut Jumpers) for “Koko,” leading to nominations for Contemporary Album and Group of the Year. With lots of radio-friendly tunes in the C&K vein, their debut collaboration is a winner mixing contemporary Hawaiian, a taste of country, and Loggins and Messina-style rock.

A former student of the University of Hawaii Maui College’s Institute of Hawaiian Music, Peter Wing is nominated for Hawaiian Slack Key Album. An impressive collection of original instrumentals and vocal compositions (sung in English and Hawaiian), “Na’au Ho’omaika’i” features help from heavyweight veterans like George Jr., Ledward Kaapana, Jeff Peterson, Kevin Brown and Kimo West. Recorded in Haiku, it’s dedicated to one of his mentors, Hawaiian legend Dennis Kamakahi.

With musical influences ranging from Bach to Van Halen, Arlie-Avery Asiu’s “Ukulele … Off the Couch” is nominated for Ukulele Album. This recording of original tunes inspired by people and places that he loves has highlights including the jazzy “Outside Looking In,” “Uke Madness” and the charming “Remembrance.”

Neal Chin is also nominated for Ukulele Album for “Ukulele Paintings.” Now living in Seattle, Neal was born and raised on Maui, and once directed Pomaika’i Elementary School students in an uke ensemble. The album features originals and arrangements of standards from the great American Songbook, such as “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Till There Was You” (once recorded by the Beatles), and “Autumn Leaves.”

“Each piece was closely handpicked to create a collage of solo and ensemble instrumental ukulele playing,” says this talented musician.

Keola Beamer (right) with Nepalese nuns in Kathmandu. He joins Tom Vendetti at the screening of “Tibetan Illusion Destroyer 3D Film and Concert” Saturday at the MACC. Tom Vendetti photo

Captivating island-style reggae buoyed by the sweetest voices and rhythms is showcased on Maoli’s “Best of Maoli,” up for Anthology Album. Maoli was previously nominated for “Arise” in 2013 and “Rock Easy” in 2011.

Maui’s Kamakakehau Fernandez and Josh Tatofi were nominated for Song of the Year for the beautiful “Lei Hala,” from the album “Pua Kiele.” Kamakakehau recently performed at The Ritz Carlton, Kapalua’s Celebration of the Arts. His debut solo album, “Wahi Mahalo,” won the Extended Play Hoku in 2013.

Finally Cindy Paulos’ inspirational collection “Ave Maria, Queen of Angels” was nominated for Religious Album.

“Mother Mary is the Queen of Angels,” says Cindy. “She is reaching out to people now more than ever, for it is time for us to embrace her gifts of forgiveness, compassion and mercy.”


San Francisco-based pianist Sarah Cahill teams with award-winning Maui filmmaker Tom Vendetti for a “Tibetan Illusion Destroyer 3D Film and Concert” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in the Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului.

The renowned pianist has commissioned, premiered and recorded numerous works for solo piano. Keyboard magazine notes: “Through her inspired interpretation of works across the 20th and 21st centuries, Cahill has been instrumental in bringing to life the music of many of our greatest living composers.” She will play works by composer Lou Harrison, and perform to Dr. Gary Greenberg’s time-lapsed micro-video.

After the intermission, Vendetti will premiere his new 3D short film, “Tibetan Illusion Destroyer,” featuring evocative, original music composed and recorded by Hawaiian music legend Keola Beamer.

“We traveled to Kathmandu twice and Keola recorded the music in a Nepal studio with seven Nepalese musicians,” Vendetti explains. “Keola will be at the screening talking about how he created the music and his experience being in Nepal and attending the Mani Rimdu ceremony in the Himalaya mountains.”

Mani Rimdu involves a series of sacred Tibetan Buddhist ceremonies and events of empowerment held over 19 days in a remote Nepalese monastery.

There will be a silent auction prior to the show along with live music in the Yokouchi Pavilion Courtyard.

* Tickets are $30 (plus applicable fees). Call 242-SHOW or visit


Grammy-nominated musician Maria Muldaur returns to the MACC at 7:30 p.m. May 25 performing in the McCoy Studio Theater with her Red Hot Bluesiana Band.

Since hitting the charts with “Midnight at the Oasis” in the ’70s, Muldaur has toured extensively worldwide and recorded 40 solo albums covering a range of American roots music, including gospel, R&B, jazz and big band (not to mention several award-winning children’s albums), before settling comfortably into her favorite idiom, the blues, in recent years.

* Tickets are $55 and $65 (plus applicable fees). For more information call 242-SHOW or visit