Monday, February 07, 2011

Hawaiian Music at the Grammys

An interesting essay from The New York Times on the uneasy relationship between the Hawaiian music community and the Grammys. With music producer and ukulele ace Daniel Ho stuck in the middle. Link


Ron Hale said...

Sigh...Well, I lived on Oahu before Hawaii was a state, Gary,
and I love Hawaiian music. But...

Living on an island is a highly insular experience, an isolating experience. Being surrounded by water cuts you off from others physically and psychologically.
So what happens on your island assumes a heightened degree of importance to you, a degree of importance not shared by those not living in your island bubble. For example, the new Hawaii 5-0 TV show becomes a huge and serious deal over there, while the rest of us over here can only shake our heads and wonder why.

Hawaiian political and social activism has fostered a sort of political correctness re the history of the Islands, and woe unto any who question the accepted tenets. Those self-deemed more Hawaiian than Kamehameha will attempt to squash them.

Now as far as I'm concerned why should Hawaiian music have a separate Grammy category in the first place? What makes this music any more special than the other music that gets grouped into the World
Music category? Again the heightened importance of YOUR music which comes from YOUR island isolation is taking precedence over logic.

If Hawaiians want to squabble and raise mountains out of the molehills of pettty PC music distinctions, they can darn well keep their nitwit fights at home. They already have their own music awards, so if they want to play silly 'more Hawaiian than thou, more pure-blood than thou' games,
the Hokus are the place to play them, not the Grammys. Leave the rest of the music world in peace.

I happen to like slack key, so what's with the anti-slack key attitude with some of these fools, Gary?
Easy listening? That's the nature of the style, for crying out loud.
It's transcendent music, deserving of winning awards.

What next, a ban on non-Hawaiians playing Hawaiian music? Blood tests before buying a ukulele? Daniel Ho should tell his detractors to take a flying leap off the Pali.

Gary said...

I rather suspect that insular communities within all areas of music take issue with who wins the Grammys in their category. Which reminds me: kind of cool seeing Kenny G spoofing himself in that Audi commercial during the Super Bowl.

Kiho'alu Wala'au said...

Aloha, have read your blog on the Hawaiian Grammy.

Mahalo for your consideration. I grew up in Hawaiian Music and my family has spent generations involved.

I was on the Daniel Ho first albums that won the Grammy. I can not tell you how much I regret enabling him. He is certainly an opportunist taking advantage including recording one of my unfinished/unregistered songs "Cyril's Song" recorded on his winning release by one of my students (no longer a student) without even asking permission to use the song. Auwe! That is illegal by any music standards.

The issues go much farther than just who wins the Grammy. He is disrespectful of the artists who have worked with him and which no one in my family and many others ever will again. Nor do we buy or sell those recordings.

And Tia Carerre? That my friend is a total joke of hawaiian music...

In my whole life I never met him or her and they were never in Hawaiian music until very recently. When I did meet him he told me he was a Jazz musician. I think he should try to enter in that category and see what happens. He uses Hawaiian because it is a new and small category that the BIg Business people don't control.

Also, we Hawaiian members are made members of the Seattle Chapter and he is in L.A. Chapter. not even in our Chapter.

He blatantly solicits votes as we have been informed by many and received his solicitations myself. i cannot tell you how disappointed I was to find out the reality of the Grammy voting process. It was not about the best album/music as I had always thought. it is about solicitation of votes. So we are forced to cheat to try to win. We were told not to solicit for votes.

As we have tried to build our submissions and membership many Hawaiian musicians say they will not pay the $100 to join just to buy Daniel another Grammy. For me if he does win again this year I will no longer be a member or care if there is a Hawaii chapter or Grammy Award.

And yes we have heard stories from other categories that have similar issues like hiring a player from a category and putting them on an album so someone who could not win otherwise is now a "Grammy Winner". It is not only Hawaiian category that feels this type of weakness in the system. Perhaps that is what should be addressed not who is more Hawaiian.

It is not about who is more Hawaiian, there is protocol in our culture and respect is one of the values we hold high. This situation is not much different than the US illegal overthrow.

If what your readers think is "might is right" then there is no point to the discussion.

And yes we do have another nomination this year. Hawaiian music by Hawaiians and includes Chino who is not Hawaiian but certainly has paid his dues in the Hawaiian music industry. And that is more of what this is about. Where was Daniel Ho and Tia back when we struggled to regain our language and music and when my family supported Hawaiian music by hosting years of activities at our home in Waimanalo?

Anyway, I invite you to listen to our CD entry FREE and please share it with your readers.

Gary said...

Maholo for the insight, Kiho'alu!


kokolele said...

Here's an article I found on

Top 50 Ukulele Sites