The Maui News
Grammy nominees have a Maui pitch
LEHIA APANA, Staff Writer

WAILUKU – Maui musicians are having their voices heard as they once again round out this year’s Grammy Award nominees for Best Hawaiian Music Album.

Artists with Maui ties vying for the award are Amy Hanaiali’i for “Amy Hanaiali’i Friends & Family of Hawai’i” and producers Paul Konwiser, George Kahumoku Jr., Wayne Wong and Daniel Ho for “Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Volume 2,” which also features several Maui musicians.

In its sixth year as a Grammy Award category, the field also includes Tia Carrere’s and Daniel Ho’s “He Nani” and Ho’okena’s “Nani Maui Loa: Everlasting Beauty.”

“I was very stoked about the nomination – we all worked really hard on it,” said Hanaiali’i, who also earned nominations in the same category in 2004, 2006 and 2009.

Blending some Hawaiian standards and original compositions with familiar pop tunes, her latest album features duets with Hawaiian music legends, including Hanaiali’i’s brother, Eric Gilliom, Keali’i Reichel and others. Adding his own star power to the project is the iconic Willie Nelson, who calls Maui home for part of the year.

Hanaiali’i, who is currently in Hilo on her “Friends and Family Christmas Tour,” said she’s “having a blast” performing with the musicians featured on her latest album.

The 52nd annual Grammy Awards are set for Jan. 31 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. While Hanaiali’i has yet to walk away with her own gramophone statuette, she said that making music she loves is a reward in itself.

“Many people ask how will I feel if I do not win the Grammy,” she said, adding that “while I would be honored and fortunate to have a Grammy Award, my true passion with music is to create and interpret songs that my kupuna and fans appreciate and accept.”

Fellow nominee Konwiser admitted that he, along with several industry insiders, are rooting for the Maui songstress.

“I would really love to see Amy win,” Konwiser said. “She’s so talented, and she’s just such a nice person and a really wonderful representative for Hawaiian music.”

He added that “honestly, it doesn’t feel like a competition. We’re all in the Hawaiian music business together, and I think those ties are more important to us than a competition for a Grammy.”

As co-producer on the three previous Grammy-winning slack key albums, Konwiser himself is no stranger to accolades. While the group’s first Grammy-winning “Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Vol. 1” was strictly instrumental, the subsequent albums saw more Hawaiian language tracks. **

The producer went on to praise the musicians who contributed to the latest project, “Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Volume 2,” calling it “our best album ever.”

“It’s similar to our other albums in that it’s a compilation with pretty much the same artists. It’s mostly vocal, and I particularly like our selection of songs – I think we did very well this time,” he said.

The slack key album was recorded live at Maui’s Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar concert series, which were held weekly at the Napili Kai Beach Resort.

“When you’re in the music business, the Grammy is the top award, so it’s wonderful validation for our show,” Konwiser said.

The Grammy awards recognize recordings released between Oct. 1, 2008, and Aug. 31.

* Lehia Apana can be reached at
**Grammy nominations. The 2006 Grammy-winning “Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Vol. 1” included mostly vocal tracks. A story published on Page A3 on Friday incorrectly reported that the album was solely instrumental.  The instrumental album intended to be referenced was the very first Hawaiian Grammy winner in 2005, “Slack Key Guitar, vol. 2” produced by Charles Brotman on Palm Records. This is a completely different producer, record company, and project series which DOES feature all instrumentals.–The Maui News apologizes for the error.

© COPYRIGHT 2009 The Maui News.

Going to Maui? Experience our live show where these Grammy winning compilations were recorded…
Every Wednesday at 7:30pm at The Napili Kai Beach Resort, on Maui.

Online Tickets to George Kahumoku Jr’s Slack Key Show: Masters of Hawaiian Music
call toll free (888) 669-3858
Show tickets $37.99 (plus applicable taxes and fees).
Dinner/Show Packages also available.