Maui songwriter, in finals for national award
August 12, 2022, 10:45 AM HST
* Updated August 12, 1:48 PM
Maui rock, blues and jazz singer Dorothy Betz has been nominated to receive a national music award out of a field of more than 50,000 entries.
Betz’s album “Best Of Betz” was nominated among 14 finalists as the “Best Extended Play Album Of the Year” by the Josie Music Awards recognizing independent artists.
The winners will be announced on Oct. 23 at the 2022 awards at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I think when independent artists get recognition, it reflects well on all of us,” Betz said.
Besides being an independent artist, one who isn’t represented by a major record label, Betz has also supported independent recording artists on Maui for decades as a volunteer radio announcer at the nonprofit Manaʻo Radio.
She and and her late partner Les Adam produced the program “Upcountry Sundays” for 12 years at Casanova Italian Restaurant featuring independent music artists, as a benefit for Manaʻo Radio.
Living in Haʻikū in a modest tin-roofed home, she and Adam produced some stunning original music on their independent label and helped to introduce Hawaiʻi to some truly gifted musicians, including ʻukulele/guitar player Vince Esquire and bassist Don Lopez, both now members of the popular touring group Kanekoa.
Betz and Adam performed occasionally with Willie Nelson on Maui and opened for Greg Allman in concert and at the premier of the national touring play Legend of Koʻolau — about a rebel Hawaiian cowboy who battles a group who overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy.
Millwright Records owner/producer Rick Hanson said he has known Betz as a singer and songwriter and really liked one of her new songs “Home Alone Again,” describing how a single person had a great time at a party but at the end of the night was faced with going home alone.
The song is one of five in the nominated album.
“It had universal appeal,” Hanson said. “It could be about a broken lover’s relationship, a divorcee or widower…”
Hanson has been a successful producer with multiple Josie nominations in various categories, including Rebecaa Mae Lawless’ 2021 album, winning Josie Music Awards’ Christian/Gospel Artist of the Year.
Hanson said another song in the Betz album — “These Empty Arms” — conveyed a similar feeling, but with a sense of resolving to stay single after a breakup. After listening to a number of other Betz songs, he decided on featuring five on an EP Album.
In the tradition of Bob Dylan, a couple of songs have an activist edge and the lyrics are compelling.
One of the songs, “An Old Woman’s Tale,” is a story of sexual abuse of a young girl by a family friend who scars her life. It’s one of Betz’s most memorable songs and expresses her awareness of a societal problem.
“I thought the timing is perfect to release this song. I still do because that problem hasn’t gone away,” Hanson said.
“People don’t want to be told what’s bad…But I felt the song needed to be recorded and played. It takes someone like Dorothy with a social conscience to get it out there. I think the song could be a hit.”
Hanson said the album also features the song, “I don’t wanna play,” where an individual thinks about the lack of integrity of some people, “enough is enough.”
Some lyrics from “I don’t wanna play” include “Everybody’s pushing when push comes to shove…Everybody’s on a roll, they ain’t got time for love…I Don’t Wanna Play. I Don’t Wanna Play. I Don’t Wanna Play.”
Adam, who died of cancer, also sings with Betz in the touching love song, “The Wind In The Trees,” — “There’s a hole in my heart…It makes a lonesome sound like the wind in the trees.”
Betz recalled Adam had a miniature model of a flying pig attached by a string to a stick and would occasionally twirl it to show that amazing things can happen and that in certain situations pigs can fly.
She said if Adam knew about the nomination, he’d “very likely” twirl the flying pig.
“I think he’d be delighted,” she said. “He was a real original. I’ve never found anyone else like him.”
For more information including purchases go to DorothyBetz.hearnow.com or rickhansonproductions.com/shop