NAPILI – Nominations for the 50th Annual Grammy Awards were recently announced by the Recording Industry Association of America.

For the third year in a row, The Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Concert Series is listed in the top five of the Best Hawaiian Music album category; this year for their CD, “Treasures.”

In 2005 and 2006, “The Masters” went on to earn number one honors in their division for “Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Vol. 1” and “Legends,” respectively, bringing home the golden Grammy to West Maui two years in a row.

Recipients of the recording industry’s 2007 awards will be announced at lavish ceremonies held in Los Angeles at the Staples Center on Feb. 10.

The Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Series is a weekly concert now held on Wednesday nights at the Napili Kai Beach Club.

The series spotlights the artistry of many of Hawaii’s most renowned musicians on a rotating basis, mostly kiho’alu masters, including the show’s musical host, George Kahumoku Jr.

The cuts on all three discs were selections from the weekly live performances.

CD co-producers are Wayne Wong, Paul Konwiser, George Kahumoku Jr. and Daniel Ho.

The Lahaina News asked them about their wining formula.

The show host attributed it to a blend of finely-tuned talent.

“Our first CD had only six headliner artists – Ledward Kaapana, Cyril Pahinui, Ozzie Kotani, Daniel Ho, Keoki Kahumoku, and me plus Da Ukulele Boyz (Peter deAquino and Garrett Probst),” co-producer Kahumoku noted.

“On ‘Legends,’ we added more, including Dennis Kamakahi, Martin Pahinui, Bobby Ingano (steel) and Richard Ho’opi’i (falsetto).”

With “Treasures,” according to Kahumoku, a female vocalist joined the mix: “Owana Salazar, one of the few wahine slack key guitarists, and she plays lap steel accompanying her beautiful voice.”

Or, perhaps it’s Kahumoku’s tradition of adding a dash of young talent to the colorful palette of musical artists that livens up the releases.

Uncle George, an art teacher at Lahainaluna High School by day, included a new “next generation” artist on the “Treasures” disc profile.

Sterling Seaton “plays every week and runs our sound with Peter deAquino. He is a graduate from Lahainaluna High School and used to hang around my classroom with his guitar.”

Wong is proud of the accomplishments and credits his native roots as the source of his inspiration.

“The show has added a fulfillment to a need that I’ve had for a long time to give back to my Hawaiian heritage. It has been such a joy to grow a seed of an idea (a consistent showplace for Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar) right here on Maui. It is a joy to watch the acknowledgment and worldwide recognition of our unique acoustic guitar tradition,” Wong said.

“‘Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar’ is the third in our series of CDs,” Wong continued, “and represents the best performances of our 2006-2007 concert series. It is the best CD that we’ve put out yet. We’ve vastly improved the quality of the sound engineering, working hard to bring back the warmness of the guitar and vocals and leaving in more of the audience responses in order to recapture the ‘live performance’ atmosphere on CD.”

Ho agreed with Wong’s assessment about the disc quality.

The CD was “mixed and mastered” by Daniel Ho Creations in L.A., “using vintage equalizers and compressors in 24-bit (higher than CD quality resolution), to bring out the detail and essence of the acoustic sound.”

“We were fortunate to have hundreds of recordings to choose from. We picked the 12 best – recordings that featured the live energy of these performers at their best,” he said.

Co-producer Konwiser acknowledges the common thread that binds them together: Their heartfelt love for kiho’alu and the Hawaiian culture.

“Ka pu’uwai ame ka’uhane me ke na manamana lima (The heart and the soul through the fingers),” Wong added.

Copyright © 2007 Lahaina News and Louise Rockett. All rights reserved. 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).
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