The best artists and mele (songs) were highlighted at the most star-studded night of the year celebrating talent from the Hawaii music scene. The 40th annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (na hoku hanohano meaning “stars of distinction”) honored talent in a diverse range of genres, from Hawaiian and slack-key to hip-hop and comedy, produced in the past year.
The night’s most acclaimed? Keauhou, from members Nicholas and Zachary Lum and Kahanuola Solatorio, whose pitch-perfect Hawaiian harmonies swept the evening’s most anticipated categories. Other notable winners include Cyril Pahinui, Blayne Asing, Raiatea Helm and Kalani Pea.
Listen to some of the selected winners below. Enjoy!
Album of the Year: “Keauhou” by Keauhou
The Hawaiian trio left the event with nine trophies to their name, including Best Album, Best Group and Most Promising Artist, making Keauhou only the third group in the award show’s 40 year history to sweep those three categories with a debut album.
Best Female Vocalist: Raiatea Helm
For a third time in her career, Helm won the top female artist award with her album, “He Leo Huali: ‘A Pure Voice.’”
Best Instrumental Composition: “Ki Hoalu” by Cyril Pahinui from “Hiilawe”
The son of Hawaiian slack-key legend Gabby Pahinui carries his father’s legacy with another brilliant ode to the genre. Pahinui also won Best Hawaiian Slack-Key Album of the Year with “Hiilawe.” Together, they add to a grand total of 17 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards to Pahinui through the years.
Best Single: “Molokai On My Mind” by Blayne Asing
Asing lives up to the expectations put on him when he won the Most Promising Artist award last year. During the singer-songwriter’s acceptance speech, Asing thanked the people of Molokai for inspiring this contemporary folk-driven tribute.
Best Anthology Album: “Kamaka Ukulele Presents: Keep Strumming! Celebrating 100 Years”
This compilation’s win was the perfect way to top off the 100 year anniversary of this beloved icon in the Islands, ukulele instruments by Kamaka Ukulele. It includes the works of Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning musicians like Paula Fuga, Mark Yamanaka, ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and the late Hawaiian icon Genoa Keawe.
Best Jazz Album: “Between The Music & The Moon” by Maggie Herron
The “Big Island’s jazz goddess” returned to the awards stage after winning her first Na Hoku in 2015 with another album showcasing her classic jazz voice and stylings.
Best Rock Album: “The Overthrow” by Nesta
The metal outfit represented their hometown of Waianae, Oahu with this banging recording of progressive metal tracks.
Best Contemporary Album: "E Walea" by Kalani Pea
Pea, who won also won a Grammy Award for this album, was recognized for this achievement drawing inspiration from his Hawaiian heritage and contemporary genres.
Best Music DVD: “Hawaii Aloha: Song Across Hawaii”
What a well deserved win for this music video from the non-profit Mana Maoli’s rendition of this Hawaiian classic.