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A Holiday Tradition: A New Hawaiian Holiday Music CD for the Collection

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Aloha, gang!

Still hard at work on Project Natalie.  But I had to take a break and share a little holiday cheer with you.

As you may remember, we have a tradition in our little home: I purchase a new Hawaiian holiday music CD at the start of every Christmas season.

Not necessarily a new CD, but one that’s new to my ever-expanding collection of awesome Hawaiian music. This year, I didn’t labor over the decision of which CD to buy.

One of my favorite Hawaiian musicians, Kuana Torres Kahele (part of the group Nā Palapalai) had released his first Christmas album, HILO FOR THE HOLIDAYS.  

kuana torres kahele, hilo for the holidays, jason poole, accidental hawaiian crooner, hawaiian music, molokai, halawa valley,

Here’s a photo I took of the album’s cover. Note: My camera doesn’t really do it justice.

One word to describe it: AWESOME

One facial gesture to describe it: BEAMING SMILE 

Yup!  I can recommend it without any hesitation.

I’m… well… I’m kind of addicted to it.  In fact, it’s playing right now while I type this post.

It’s too hard to say which track is my favorite. Why?  Well, it changes.  Each listening brings something I hadn’t heard before… And a new favorite emerges.

Today, the favorite is his recording of the Christmas classic, Silver Bells.  Growing up along the East Coast of the continental United States, we had really “traditional” Christmases (at least, “traditional” in the Hollywood movie/Norman Rockwell sense)–most of ‘em complete with snow on the ground!  And this song makes a lot of sense if this imagery is familiar to you.  Knowing what the holiday season looks like/smells like/feels like living in NYC, it’s really familiar.  (I recently read the story about how this song came to be written by it’s composers Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.  Wanna read it, too?  Check out the  book SONGWRITERS ON SONGWRITING.  Fascinating!)  It’s been a favorite song of mine for as long as I can remember.

Hearing Kuana sing it–even though there’s nothing “tropical” or Hawaiian, per se, about his delivery–the song still imparts a Hawaiian vibe.  I can’t explain it.  It no longer feels like a New York Christmas carol.  It’s more universal.

(And yes… I’ll admit it: I got a little choked up when I listened to it earlier this morning.)

Another favorite: ʻEKOLU MEA NUI/HALELŪ.   The first song in this medley is near and dear to my heart.  It’s one of Pops’ favorites.  We sing it all the time in Hālawa Valley.  He says the message is really important to living a balanced life.  And the addition of HALELŪ (penned by Kahele, himself, I think!) is awesome.  A perfect compliment to a Hawaiian favorite.

And another favorite: HALELUIA.  It’s the Leonard Cohen classic melody (Hallelujah) that you know and love–with new lyrics composed by Kuana.  I know… I know… I get goosebumps, too.  Wow!!!

(See?  I told you that I can’t pick a favorite track!  Each one is special in its own way.)

By the way, I heard thru the grapevine that the song HERE COMES SANTA IN A RED CANOE will be heard in an upcoming episode of Hawaii Five-0!

*Super Bonus: The CD comes with fantastic liner notes–including the songs’ lyrics.  I don’t know about you, but I love good liner notes.  And I really appreciate having the lyrics–especially when it’s a recording that I’m not familiar with.  So helpful!

So that’s the newest Hawaiian holiday music CD in the collection. (Although I can pretty much guarantee there will be others added this year, too… There are so many good albums to choose from!)

What are YOU listening to this holiday season?  Is there a musical tradition that YOU have with your family?  Drop me a line!  I’d love to hear from you!

4 Responses to “A Holiday Tradition: A New Hawaiian Holiday Music CD for the Collection”

  1. Jane says:

    There is something about Haleluia, I just cant sing that word without a smile on my face. Try it, I mean really sing it, don’t just say it, sing it. Thank you Jason, for giving me a smile.

  2. Jason Poole says:

    Aloha, Jane! Yes… I know what you mean! And the new lyrics that Kuana has composed are beautiful. The Cohen song has always given me goosebumps. And now, to have this version, too–wow! Thanks, Jane, for the smile!

  3. Linda Pahoa says:

    OMG! Hallelujah! “Haleluia is a GOD SEND!” Tomorrow is Resurection Sunday, Please may I have the Lyrics to it, so that I may share this BEAUTIFULLY done reversion by you Kuana Torres. We do Hula praise and worship here in Texas. Our first praise ever done wa “I Call Him Lord”, and we had spoken before, years ago, (I am Willy Moku’s Sister) but I was not able to send for you and your band Napalapalai. It was just not God’s time yet to have you come I believe. BUT, I know in Gods’ time you WILL come. But in the meantime, please can I have the lyrics to “Haleluia” to Share the Aloha for KE Akua tomorrow. I will try to find it and fb message you today. I am SOO moved y this Melody, and Words I can imagine some of the translation but would like to do it CORRECTLY and COMPLETELY…only Ke Akua KNEW who to give this Praise too, and that was YOU! Bless and Be Blessed, your Anointing is TRULY in your Music for Christ.
    Mahalo nui loa, Aloha
    Linda Saragosa-Pahoa

  4. Jason Poole says:

    Aloha mai e Linda! I’m sorry that I don’t know how to get this to Kuana. I see that he’s on FB a lot… that may be your best bet.
    I love the song, too. He does such an incredible job!
    I hope you had a great Easter Sunday.
    Much Aloha to you.