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Season's Listening! 6 essential Hawaii Christmas music albums



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best_six_Hawaii_Christmas_albums_ever

Ki Hoalu Christmas
Various Artists

Dancing Cat Records, 1996

You’ll find a small handful of multiartist Christmas albums featuring the Grammy-winning art of Hawaiian slack key guitar (ki hoalu), most quite good. This is the best of the bunch, compiled by pianist/slack key guitar fan George Winston for his Dancing Cat Records label. Among the musicians on the track list are Ledward Kaapana, George Kahumoku Jr., Keola Beamer, Bla Pahinui and the late Barney Isaacs—all in fine form. The liner notes, explaining, for example, the origins of “Mele Kalikimaka” (performed here by Cyril Pahinui), are almost as impeccable as the music.


best_six_Hawaii_Christmas_albums_ever

Willie Kalikimaka
Willie K

Mountain Apple Co., 1999

The standout track here is the Maui vocalist/musician’s breathtaking rendition of  “O Holy Night,” his crystalline baritone and soaring falsetto front and center throughout. Come Christmas, it’s a staple on Hawaii radio. The rest of the tracks on Willie Kalikimaka, however, are hardly throwaway. Willie brings the same emotional vocal punch to “What Child Is This/Greensleeves” and “Silent Night,” and has goofy ukulele fun with “Mele Kalikimaka.” Trading acoustic and steel guitar licks with fellow Maui resident Willie Nelson on “Away in a Manger?” Priceless.

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(A version of this feature was originally published in the December 2010 issue of HAWAII Magazine.)


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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
Song samples of the 5 best Hawaii albums
Honolulu, Lahaina among Orbitz’s top Christmas destinations
Kauai’s 15th annual Festival of Lights showcases island-style Christmas folk art






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