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Maui Makes Music at 2012 Nā Hōkū Awards

Alaka'i Paleka "The Morning Goddess" of KPOA 93.5 FM on Maui presented the Na Hoku for Reggae Album of the Year to Maui's own Ekolu. Photo courtesy Alaka'i Paleka via Darnelle Keala.

By Wendy Osher

Maui musicians and vocalists were among those honored with awards at the 35th Annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano event held Sunday night at the Hawai’i Convention Center.

Wining the Reggae Album of the Year category for their “Simply For Love” album was Ekolu of Maui.

Also taking home a Nā Hōkū from Maui was Willie K, who won the Rock Album of the Year category for “Warehouse Blues.”  It was the first time he was nominated in the category after winning his first Nā Hōkū in 1992.

Also of Maui, John Ioane Keanaaina, Jr., won the Extended Play of the Year category for his release, “Na Mele O Ioane Keanaaina.”

The big finisher was Kuana Torres Kahele of Hawai’i Island, who was recognized in multiple categories, winning the prestigious Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year for Na Vaqueros, Hawaiian Album of the Year, liner notes, and 2012 Album of the Year for “Kuanaloa.”

Torres Kahele was part of the accomplished group Na Palapalai before releasing “Kuanaloa,” his first solo album.

Others with Maui roots or ties that were nominated as finalists in various categories were:  Ahumanu, made up of musicians Liz Morales and Joni DeMello, was a nominee for Island Music Album of the Year for their album No Kuuipo; Nuff Sedd was a finalist for Group of the Year; and Josh Tatofi was a nominee in the category for Most Promising Artist of the Year.

Molokai songstress, Raiatea Helm was nominated for both Female Vocalist of the Year, Island Music Album of the Year for her album Sea Of Love, as well as Favorite Entertainer of the Year. Other Maui names include The Throwdowns, Leiohu Ryder, and George Kahumoku Jr.

The Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts announced the winners in 27 categories, including a brand new category, International Album of the Year. A list of winners in key categories is included below.

Most Promising Artist of the Year:  Starr Kalahiki, Salt (Kipuka)

Female Vocalist of the Year: Natalie Ai Kamauu, A (Keko)

Extended Play Release of the Year: Na Mele O Ioane Keanaaina, John Ioane Keanaaina, Jr. (no label)

Religious Album of the Year: Chucky Boy Chock and Friends, Chucky Boy Chock (New Song Music)

Group of the Year: Waipuna, E Hoi Mai (Poki)

Hip-Hop Album of the Year: Illnomadic, Navid Najafi (‘Aumakua)

Compilation Album of the Year: Ho‘ala Iapana, Various Artists (no label) Dave Tucciarone – Producer

Single of the Year: Ainahau, Waipuna (Poki)

Male Vocalist of the Year: Kuana Torres Kahele, Kaunaloa (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Anthology Album of the Year: Kekumuwai, Pandanus Club (Makuakane) Kenneth Makuakane, Chris Keliiaa, and Tash Tavares-Makuakane – Producers

Instrumental Album of the Year: Peace Love Ukulele, Jake Shimabukuro (Hitchhike)

Slack Key Album of the Year: Waimaka Helelei, Dennis Kamakahi and Stephen Inglis (‘Aumakua)

Island Music Album of the Year: E Ho‘i Mai, Waipuna (Poki)

Jazz Album of the Year (TIE):  Salt, Starr Kalihiki (Kipuka), and Ukulele Jazz Live In Concert Hilo, Hawaii, Benny Chong (no label)

Contemporary Album of the Year: Rising In Love, Lehua Kalima (Kalima)

Reggae Album of the Year: Simply For Love, Ekolu (Waiehu)

Hawaiian Album of the Year: Kaunaloa, Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Rock Album of the Year: Warehouse Blues, Willie K (Maui Tribe)

2012 Album of the Year: Kaunaloa, Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele) Kuana Torres Kahele and Dave Tucciarone – Producers

Song of the Year: Na Vacqueros, by Kuana Torres Kahele from KAUNALOA, Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Favorite Entertainer of the Year: Jake Shimabukuro

2012 Technical Finalists:

Graphics: Kuhao Zane and Kamele Eskaran, for Kaunaloa, Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Liner Notes: Kuana Torres Kahele, for Kaunaloa, Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele)

2012 Adjudicated Finalists: (Each of these categories is voted on by a separate panel of judges.)

Haku Mele: Ku’u Hoa Hi‘ikua, by Kalehua Krug, from AIA I HI`IALO, Hiikua (Kanemakua)

Hawaiian Language Performance: Robert Cazimero, Hula (Mountain Apple)

Engineering: Wendell Ching, Brad Watanabe, and JP Kennedy, for Self Titled, Hot Rain (Afflatus)

International Album of the Year: Ohana, Kaulana (Kaulana)

Album of the Year
“Kuanaloa,” Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele)
Kuana Torres Kahale and Dave Tucciarone, producers

Anthology Album of the Year
“Kekumuwai,” Pandanus Club (Makuakane)
Kenneth Makuakane, Chris Kealiiaa and Tasha Tavares-Makuakane, producers

Compilation Album of the Year
“Ho‘ala Iapana,” Various Artists
Dave Tucciarone, producer

Contemporary Album of the Year
“Rising In Love,” Lehua Kalima (Kalima)

EP (Extended Play) of the Year
“Na Mele O Ioane Keanaaina,” John Ioane Keanaaina, Jr.

Favorite Entertainer of the Year
Jake Shimabukuro

Female Vocalist of the Year
Natalie Ai Kamauu, “‘A” (Keko)

Graphics
Kuhao Zane and Kamele Eskaran, for “Kaunaloa,” Kuana Torres Kahale (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Group of the Year
Waipuna, “E Ho‘i Mai” (Poki)

Haku Mele
“Ku’u Hoa Hi’ikua,” Hi’ikua, from “Aia I Hi’ialo,” Hi’ikua (Hi’ikua)

Hawaiian Album of the Year
“Kaunaloa,” Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Hawaiian Language Performance
“Hula,” Robert Cazimero (Mountain Apple)

Hip-Hop Album of the Year
“Illnomadic,” Navid Najafi (‘Aumakua)

Instrumental Album of the Year
“Peace Love Ukulele,” Jake Shimabukuro (Hitchhike)

Island Music Album of the Year
“E Ho‘i Mai,” Waipuna (Poki)

Jazz Album of the Year (TIE)
“Salt,” Starr Kalahiki (Kipuka)
“Ukulele Jazz Live in Concert Hilo, Hawaii,” Benny Chong

Liner Notes
Kuana Torres Kahale, for “Kaunaloa,” Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Male Vocalist of the Year
Kuana Torres Kahele, “Kaunaloa” (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Most Promising Artist
Starr Kalahiki, “Salt” (Kipuka)

Reggae Album of the Year
“Simply For Love,” Ekolu (Waiehu)

Religious Album of the Year
“Chucky Boy Chock and Friends,” Chucky Boy Chock (New Song Music)

Rock Album of the Year
“Warehouse Blues,” Willie K (Maui Tribe)

Single of the Year
“‘Ainahau,” Waipuna (Poki)

Slack Key Album of the Year
“Waimaka Helelei,” Dennis Kamakahi and Stephen Inglis (‘Aumakua)

Song of the Year (composer’s award)
“Na Vaqueros” by Kuana Torres Kahele, from “Kaunaloa,” Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Adjudicated Categories

Engineering
Wendell Ching, Carl Noa and Matthew Honda for “Self Titled,” Hot Rain (Afflatuf)

Hawaiian Language Performance
“Hula,” Robert Cazimero (Mountain Apple Company)

Haku Mele
“Ku’u Hoa Hi‘ikua,” by Kalehua Krug, from “Aia I Hi‘ialo,” Hi‘ikua (label)

International Album of the Year
“‘Ohana,” Kaulana (Kaulana)

Additional Awards

Ki Ho’alu Foundation Legacy Award
Makana

Moe Keale “Aloha Is” Award
Haunani Apoliona

Steel Guitar Legacy Award
The Tau Moe Family

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