Photo: Vivien Killilea/WireImage
GRAMMY Museum Celebrates Hawai'i's GRAMMY Nominees, Its Music, Hula & Culture
Of all the 50 U.S. States, you might be surpised to find that one of the smallest and the furthest from the mainland, Hawai'i, produces such diverse and prolific music scene - unless, of course, you've been - then you already know! For the unitiated, the GRAMMY Museum's annual event celebrating Hawai'ian music was the perfect primar for understanding and appreciated the rich culture - and best of all, the star-studded Salute To Hawai'i's GRAMMY Nominees concert at the Museum's Clive Davis Theatre was also pure fun.
Kicking off the night of live music, Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Bobby Moderow Jr. regailed the audience out of the gate with a touching and inspired performance, burning up his acoustic guitar, even reaching over the top of the neck with lightning speed to fret it with his forearm before zipping back around to continue to play, a parlor trick that complimented Maderow's beatiful voice and guitar work with the perfect amount of flair.
Switching gears for the second set, the first Hawaiian GRAMMY nominee of the night took the stage - but it wasn't to perform the traditional island music you might expect. Upright bassist/composer Kathryn Schulmeister, who is nominated for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album for her work on Susan Narucki's The Edge of Silence: Works for Voice by György Kurtág. A graduate of Punahou School, the same school former President Barack Obama graduated from, Schulmeister performed a transfixing modern Italian piece incorporating microtonal notes and elements of the blues that began with an original composition of her own. As she slid, glided and scraped up and down her bass' neck, she moved the crowd with her expressive and captivating performance.
Pop music in Hawai'i comes with a unique twist, and the young quartet Streetlight Cadence has that magic in spades. Also graduates of Punahou School and Na Hoku Hanohano award winners, the quartet of accordion, electric cello, guitar and violin (augmented and driven by a powerful kick drum) performed "Street Lights And Sirens," a tribute to a friend they lost in a car accident. The night's emcee then took the opportunity to teach the room the Hawai'ian word for "we want an encore": hana hou. Streetlight Cadence obliged, delivering an inspired version of their song "Thinking Of You."
Slack key great and Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Jeff Peterson was next on the lineup, and with some enlightening explanation from our emcee, Peterson schooled the room on slack key technique, stunning the audience with his gorgeos guitar work. He stayed on stage to accompany the great Amy Hanaiali'i, Hawai'i's top-selling female vocalst of all-time and current nominee in the Best Regional Roots Music Ablum category for Kalawai`anui. Proving why she is a marquee entertainer and fixture of Hawai'an music, telling fascinating stories of her grandmother coming to New York City and opening the legendary Hawaiian Room, coming to Los Angeles to lead the wave of Hawiian-themed boom in Hollywood and more. She closed her short yet fantastic set with a powerhouse version of "At Last," alternating between English and Hawaiian.
The final current nominees of the night ook the stage when Kimie Miner was joined by Imua Garza for an incredible performance including songs from Miner's Hawaiian Lullabye album, which the duo up for as producers in the Best Regional Roots Music Album category. Minor brightened the room with hypbrid English/Hawaiian lyrics to "You Are My Sunshine," shouting out her children in the audience and igniting the crowd into applause.
To close the evening, magnetic two-time GRAMMY winner Kalani Pe'a played a few tunes, leading the audience in a sing along ang bringing them to their feet for the finale. Always entertaining, comical and dapper, Pe'a even made mention of his purple jacket on display at the GRAMMY Museum, joking he wants it back because he wants to wear it. Leading the room in a sing-along grand finale, Pe'a united the room in the name of music, reminding them how music brings us all together.
With that, the crowd and performers alike filtered up to the Museum's scenic rooftop for a post-show reception - the perfect ending to a spectacular night of Hawaiian music and culture