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Posts Tagged ‘Kealii Reichel’

Hawaiian Christmas Music? Right on!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, Molokai, Halawa Valley, Anakala Pilipo, Hawaii, Jason Poole, Christmas Music, Christmas Music Playlist, Hawaiian Christmas music, kealii reichel, amy hanaialii, john keawe, keahiwai, slack key, eddie kamae, sons of hawaii, hookena, willie k.,

Aloha Kalikimaka!

Hui!  Aloha mai!

Christmas is right around the corner.  And that means that everywhere I go, I hear Christmas music Piped in over the loudspeakers at stores, at holiday parties, on television and the radio, my world is filled with the sounds of the season.

Here in NYC, we hear a lot of the “traditional” recordings.  The standards, recorded by the greats like Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Julie Andrews, Nat King Cole, Burl Ives, Brenda Lee et al. (You know the ones I’m talking about, right?)

And please don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE those songs.

But as a Hawaiian Crooner, I need some holiday tunes with an Aloha-infused, Hawaiian vibe to help ring in the holiday spirit.

And I’m guessing YOU do, too.

So this year, I thought I would share a list of some of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE HAWAIIAN CHRISTMAS ALBUMS.  Culled from my personal Hawaiian Christmas music collection–which is far from complete–these albums are in constant rotation in our home during the holiday season.  Each of ‘em are full of great tracks that will make you smile.

(Note: Click on the title for a link to–a fantastic online Hawaiian music source.)

The Crooner’s Hawaiian Christmas Music Picks:

A Hawaiian Christmas (Amy Hānaialiʻi)

Maluhia (Kealiʻi Reichel)

Hilo for the Holidays (Kuana Torres Kahele)

Christmas ʻUkulele Style (Daniel Ho)

Christmas Time (Eddie Kamae & The Sons of Hawaiʻi)

Huliau (Hoʻokena)

Santa’s Gone Hawaiian! (Various Artists)

Christmas Day in Hawaiʻi Nei (Mākaha Sons)

Kī hōʻalu Christmas: Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar (Various Artists)

Willie Kalikimaka (Willie K.)

Christmas Is… (John Keawe)

Merry Christmas (Keahiwai)

What are some of YOUR FAVORITE Hawaiian Christmas albums?  Drop me a line and let me know! I’d love to hear from you!



ukulele Croonerʻs Weekly TOP 3 iPod Jason Poole Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

Aloha kākou!

I always have my iPod with me. It’s my personal jukebox.

Living in New York City, I spend a lot of time traveling underground via subway–and those rides can be long and boring! But having a collection of great music with me at all times keeps me from losing my mind. I can escape to a tropical isle with the push of a button. Portable paradise!

Here are the TOP 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Wahine Uʻi (Linda Dela Cruz’s recording on the album Hawaii’s Canary)

Vintage Hawaiian music rocks my little piece of the world.  Listening to those voices from the past (both distant and not-so distant) is so rewarding!  I learn something every time.  Something from every song and every singer.

One of the recordings that’s captured my ear and my heart this week is WAHINE UʻI as sung by Linda Dela Cruz.  (Note: this is the version attributed to James Kahele.)  I love the control she has in her voice.  Butterscotch-rich low notes.  A flawless haʻi or break in the female voice–like falsetto.  She almost cries some of the notes–reminding me of the Patsy Cline classic, I FALL TO PIECES.

I could listen to her all day.  And learn something new every time.

*Sadly, Aunty Linda passed away in 2007.  But you can click HERE to learn more about her life via her obituary.

2. Wahi Mahalo (Kamakakēhau Fernandez’s recording on the album Wahi Mahalo)

Riding on the subway, I listen to a lot of music.  This song started playing and I wasn’t giving it my full attention. (Note: Riding the subway in NYC is always an interesting experience–filled with all sorts of interesting people, sounds, smells, etc.  It’s not difficult to have one’s attention be pulled in a million directions at once.)  Then I heard the word MAHALO.  And then I heard it, again.  And again.  And again.

So I restarted the song and gave it my full attention.

I love this song because of of its sentiment.  What an awesome way to close an album–offering up MAHALO, thanks, for everyone and everything in his life.  So awesome!  And it’s just like how Pops lives his life in Hālawa Valley on Molokai–always offering up MAHALO for everything.  A state of gratitude.  I hope to be able to do that.  If ALOHA is the word one hears most while in Hawaiʻi, I promise you that MAHALO is a close second.

And, of course, I’d be a fool not to mention how much I LOVE Kamakakēhau’s voice!  Auē!  This man can S.I.N.G!  Holy wow!  And listening to how pronounces Hawaiian–that, alone is sweet music.

Do you have this album in your collection already?  It’s essential.  Trust me.

*Please click HERE to visit Kamakakēhau’s MySpace page.

3. Beyond the Reef (Amy Hānaialiʻi & Willie K’s recording on the album Nostalgia)

What do you get when you translate a well-known hapa haole classic into Hawaiian and then mix it with a hot and sultry jazz arrangement?  You get Amy & Willie K’s smooth and bluesy BEYOND THE REEF.

This one took me by complete surprise the first time I heard it.  I didn’t expect it.  But the whole album took me by surprise!  They reinterpreted some Hawaiian and hapa haole classics in ways I never dreamed of… And I’m so glad they did!

When I hear the title BEYOND THE REEF, the dreamy crooner-classic version recorded by Alfred Aholo Apaka comes to mind.  So I was blown away by this number that could be “at home” in the heart of a blues or jazz club.  With Amy’s killer vocals and Willie’s killer instrumentals–well–it’s a killer track!

I hope you’ll open your mind and your ears and give it a listen.

*Please click HERE to visit Amy’s website.

*Please click HERE to visit Willie K’s website.

4. Mele ʻOhana (Kealiʻi Reichel’s recording on the album Keʻalaokamaile)

Homesick for my family this week, I fell in love with this song, again.  Written by Damon Williams and a Hawaiian translation by Charles Kaʻupu, the song feels like it was written by my own heart.

And Kealʻii Reichel is THE VOICE to sing it.  So sensitive.  So perfect.

Nothing else to say. Simple. Perfect.  Yup.

*Please click HERE to visit Kealiʻi’s website.

5. Olinda Road (Pure Heart’s recording on the album Pure Heart)

I love this classic instrumental track from Pure Heart’s debut album.

Pure Heart was awesome!  A band made up of Jon Yamasato, Lopaka Colon and Jake Shimabukuro.  These young guys rocked!  I think I played this CD so many times that it overheated in my CD player.  Ha!

This track features each of them in a special way–Jake really shines on the ukulele (as usual!)  Lopaka’s Latin-infused percussion rocks!  (Are those bongos he’s playing?!)  And Jon is jamming on the guitar.  A great mix, for sure!

I remember listening to this track and having images of guys putting surfboards into a van and heading to the beach.  Does the song have anything to do with that?  Who knows… but that’s the image that I got.

And it’s an image that always made me smile.

I love the group Pure Heart.  And I love that it makes me feel younger when I listen to ‘em.  Mahalo for that, guys.

What are YOU listening to?  Drop me a line and let me know!

And, as always, a giant MAHALO to Puna and the gang at for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!  I’m DEFINITELY thankful for that!

**Wanna be the first to know when Crooner News/Updates are posted?  You can subscribe by clicking HERE!**


Aloha, gang!

In case you were wondering:


(But you already knew that, right?!  Ha!)

This past weekend, we had all sorts of great Aloha-filled activities happening in the city.

On Friday night, I had the chance to participate in a fundraiser for church.

It was an evening of Hawaiian music and it was presented down in the church’s basement.

But this was no ordinary basement–it was the crypt!

Yup!  For real!

It was great to gather with other Hawaiian musicians–both Hawaii-born and Hawaiian-at-Heart–and share music with the folks that came out to support the church.  And there was hula, too!  Such beautiful hula!

Each of the musicians and dancers that shared represented a different “flavor” of Hawaiʻi, a different style.  It was like a smorgasbord for the senses!  An awesome event, for sure!  (Giant MAHALO to my Hawaiian music brother, Tommy Cheng, for organizing the evening.  I hope we helped to raise some funds for the church!)

And then on Sunday, we had the Annual Hawaiʻi Potluck Picnic in Central Park!

This is an event that we wait for all year.  An awesome get-together with folks from all over the Northeast who show up in Central Park to share some hula, some music and some awesome potluck food!

(Auē!  I think I might have gained 10 pounds from all of the goodies!)

Looking around and seeing all of those smiles–even when we had passing rain showers!–you just know the Aloha Spirit is alive and well in NYC!

So East Coast folks: do you know about the organization called Hālāwai?

You can sign up to be on their mailing list–they are the glue the holds the Northeast Hawaiian family together.  A valuable resource, for sure!

And we’re got lots more happening in the Big Apple this week!

Rumor has it that Kealiʻi Reichel and some of his hālau have arrived in NYC (via the new Hawaiian Airlines route to NYC!) and will be performing in front Grand Central Station (Pershing Square) in the heart of the city this Thursday (June 7th) from 5-7pm! (I learned this via the Kealiʻs Reichel Hui page on facebook.)

And there are Hawaiian workshops being presented (Hālāwai Hawaiian Cultural Workshops) this coming Saturday (June 9th), too!  Hawaiian voyaging/navigation, poi pouding & history, hula, mele–Phew!

But wait… there’s more!

The New York Uke Festival is this weekend (June 7th-10th)!

And kumu hula Michael Pili Pang is offering a workshop opportunity (June 8th)!

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Check out to see what’s happening.

So yes…


**What kind of fantastic Aloha-inspired things are happening in YOUR world?  Let us know!


red hibiscus

Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!

Hawaiian love songs are my favorite. No contest. No other music can compete when it comes to creating a romantic mood.

Maybe the geographic isolation of the Hawaiian islands makes it a fertile ground for romantic thought. Maybe it’s because the composers are surrounded by such natural beauty. Maybe it’s because the sunsets in Hawaiʻi are the best on the planet–and they have a way of creating a romantic mood.

I’m not sure. But…

To honor this day of romance, I thought I’d share 5 MORE of my Favorite Hawaiian Love Songs with you:

1. Kuʻu Pua Mae ʻOle (Kealiʻi Reichel’s recording on the album Lei Haliʻa)

This contemporary ballad is a true favorite!  I first heard this song years ago, before I’d really begun my Hawaiian language studies.  Without even understanding the lyrics, I knew the song was a love song that was DEEP!  Ha!

Years later, after the language began making sense to my ears, I listened to the song, again.  And it knocked my socks off.  The title translates as “My Beloved Never-fading Flower.”  Wow… a love that remains eternally beautiful and fresh.  Even typing these words brings tears tears to my eyes.

Written by Kealiʻi Reichel, it’s a treat to hear him sing it–as he intended it to be sung.


2. Mahina ʻO Hoku (Dennis Pavao’s recording on the album Keiki Kupuna )

Often attributed to Lilian Awa, this song is crooner staple.  Why?

Well, for starters, the lyrics are incredibly beautiful–simple yet lush oh-so-lush imagery about two lovers spending a romantic evening on a deserted beach on the night before the fullest phase of the moon.

And the melody allows a crooner to embellish away–adding all of the crooner dips and flourishes that they love!

And it’s one of the most requested songs I’m asked to play when I’m playing for a hula dancer.  The song is a bit tricky when it comes to playing for a dancer–there are two accepted versions that I’m aware of.  And each version differs slightly, whether it’s a full vamp in between verses or what some of my hula friends call a “cheated vamp”–a variation of the traditional hula counts.

Its complexity is actually a lovely gift because it means that the dancer and the musicians must work together.  No one can go on autopilot.  We listen and watch and move and breathe as one.

(Don’t you think that’s kind of perfect for a love song?)

And Dennis Pavao’s stunning voice makes this song come to life so beautifully.

3. Ka Lehua I Milia (Kuʻuipo Kumukahi’s recording on the album Nā Hiwa Kupuna O Kuʻu One Hānau)

Another staple in the crooner repertoire.  This song, written by the inimitable duo of Mary Kawena Pukuʻi and Maddy Lam, describes a beloved flower, a caressed blossom.

It’s not hard to imagine that the composers might have been talking about a beloved person, as well.  Right?

And Kuʻuipo’s touching rendition reaches right into my heart.  Perfection.

4. Pua Hone (Rev. Dennis Kamakahi’s recording on the album ʻOhana)

One of my all-time favorite songs-to listen to and to sing.

This classic love song was written by Uncle Dennis as a proposal to his bride.  Imagine?!  You can read the story on Huapala’s website by clicking on the link HERE.

It’s been covered by a ton of artists–and all of the versions are beautiful!  But Uncle Dennis sings it the way he sang it to propose.  So special!

5. I Miss You, My Hawaiʻi (Nā Leo Pilimehana’s recording on the album, I Miss You, My Hawaiʻi)

I heard this song playing the other day and it made me get all teary-eyed.  True story.

A love song written for Hawaiʻi.  And sung by the amazingly lovely voices of Nā Leo Pilimehana.  You just can’t ask for more than that.

I love you, Hawaiʻi.  And I miss you…

What romantic songs are making YOU swoon?  Drop me a line and let me know!

**Please click HERE to see The Croonerʻs TOP 5 Hawaiian Love Songs from 2011.

And, as always, a giant MAHALO to Puna and the gang at for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!


The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 5″ (11.30.11)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ukulele Croonerʻs Weekly TOP 3 iPod Jason Poole Accidental Hawaiian Crooner

Aloha kākou!

I always have my iPod with me. It’s my personal jukebox.

Living in New York City, I spend a lot of time traveling underground via subway–and those rides can be long and boring! But having a collection of great music with me at all times keeps me from losing my mind. I can escape to a tropical isle with the push of a button. Portable paradise!

Here are the TOP 5 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Hanohano ʻO Maui (Kealiʻi Reichel’s recording on the album Melelana)

Written by Kahikina DeSilva and Moe Keale, this wonderful song celebrates the natural beauty of the island of Maui.  And being that Maui is Kealiʻi’s home, it’s a perfect song for him to sing.  He’s familiar with the island and her beauty.  He sings with confidence and pride!

A simple song structure–with verses consisting of only two lines each–allows for the poetry to stand out, to really sing.  Yes, the lyrics are written in Hawaiian.  But even if you’re not familiar with the language (at all!) you’ll still be able to feel what the composers intended.  A true taste of the island.

Kealiʻi is an incredible performer.  And it’s also wonderful to hear the background “chorus” sing verses. (The liner notes list only 3 names as background vocals–but it sounds like so much more!)  One of my favorite parts of the song is listening to Kealiʻi kāhea, or call out the first word/words to the next verse.  It’s something we see/hear a lot of in hula.  And as Kealiʻi is a kumu hula (master hula teacher), it makes me think that he must have choreographed something awesome for this song.

I dare you to listen to this song and NOT smile.  I think that would be impossible!

*Please click HERE to visit Kealiʻi’s website.

2. Lānaʻikaula (Kuana Torres Kahele’s recording on the album Kaunaloa)

As a musician, my ear is always listening for music that makes me say to myself, “Now that’s a song that I need to learn.”

This week, I was listening to random mix of tunes while I worked and this song came on.  The first verse played and I knew I needed to stop working and see what the song’s title was.  (I recognized the voice of Kauana Torres Kahale instantly!  I’m a ridiculously huge fan of the group Nā Palapalai.  His voice is one that stands out in a crowd.)  I was excited to see that it was on his solo album, released earlier this year–and I went to find the liner notes immediately.

According to the notes, the mele was written after a fantastic (and educational!) trip to Lānaʻi in 2009.

I know so few songs about Lānaʻi and hearing this made my heart happy.  The tempo is a traditional hula tempo–and the lyrics (penned by Kellen Paik) would lend themselves beautifully to a hula.  So descriptive!

A new favorite song from an incredible album.  Do you have it yet?  It’s one that you’ll listen to over and over. (And find a new favorite every time!  Ha!)

*Please click HERE to visit Kuana’s page at Mountain Apple Company.

3. Here In This Enchanted Place (Emma Veary’s recording on the album The Best of Emma)

In my mind, Emma Veary is a true LADY.  I mean, when I listen to hear sing, I picture her standing with a straight back, shoulders down, arms bent with hands held at her solar plexus and a look of pure contentment on her lovely face.  Of course, this is only the image I’ve created in my mind, but I love it.  (And until I’m told otherwise, I’m going to keep it!  Ha!)

This song, sung in English, is a favorite.  I first heard it on a recording by legendary Hawaiian crooner, Alfred Aholo Apaka recording.  But I was so delighted to hear Ms. Emma’s soaring soprano voice on this recording!  Aue!  Brings tears to the eyes.

Her voice represents “another time” in Hawaiian music… And yet, her voice is also eternal.

Triple love her.  True story.

*Please click HERE to visit PBS Hawai’i's Long Story Short with Emma Veary.  An excellent interview!!

4. None Hula (Nāpua’s recording on the album Pihana)

I was listening to Nāpua’s debut album this week (for the umpteenth time) and was enjoying this very traditional sounding hula.  However, I didn’t understand one of the main words: NONE.  (I’m still an “infant” when it comes to the Hawaiian language.  Slow and steady… Slow and steady…)  So I looked in the liner notes–The Nagging Hula!  I loved it!  It just goes to show you can write a song–or choreograph a hula–to pretty much anything!  (Nāpua is also a kumu hula–I’d love to see her choreography to this song!)

I love Nāpua’s voice!  And the “old-style” feel she brings to this song is delicious!

*Please click HERE to read a great “Intro to Napua Greig”-style article that came out in 2007.

5. Puamana (The Jack de Mello Orchestra’s recording on the album Hawaiʻi: Land of Enchantment)

I am feeling really nostalgic this week.  And this album, recorded in 1961, will take you back to that time instantly.  For real.

A staple song in any Hawaiian musician or hula dancer’s repertoire is Aunty Irmgard Farden’s classic PUAMANA.   I must have at least 10 recordings of it in my collection.  But this version is a one-of-a kind!

Jack de Mello truly embraced the lounge/exotica/classical/ambient sound.  Have I totally confused you?  Remember the opening theme song to the television show, Star Trek?  Well… while not entirely the same, it’s got a similar vibe.  (I tried to describe it to a friend who said, “Oh, so you mean it’s cheesy?”  And that’s absolutely NOT what I mean.  If someone was trying to reproduce those sounds today, that might be cheesy… But DeMello was really experimenting.  Playing with classics in, what was then, a new way.)

I love it.  It’s lush and over the top and wonderful.

(And does the soaring soprano voice we hear belong to the lovely Ms. Emma Veary?  Hmm…)

What are YOU listening to?  Drop me a line and let me know!

And, as always, a giant MAHALO to Puna and the gang at for being an awesome Hawaiian music resource. You all make the world a better place!  I’m DEFINITELY thankful for that!

**Want the latest Crooner News/Updates sent directly to your inbox?  You can subscribe by clicking HERE!**

1 Comment

Aloha kākou!

Here’s this week’s question:

Hawaiian recording artist (and all-around renaissance man!) Kealiʻi Reichel recorded an album with a title that means PEACE.  Which album was that?





• Please submit your answer as a reply to this blog post.
• All correct answers will be eligible to win a special email message from me.
• One winner will be randomly chosen at 11:59pm HST.

Will YOU be this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Aloha Poʻalima! Happy Aloha Friday!

** Crooner Update:

Y’all are GOOD!  Right on!  You definitely seem to know your Kealiʻi Reichel albums!

The correct answer is D. MALUHIA.  (And I totally agree with you, Ms. Lei–it’s one of my favorite holiday albums, too!)  If you’re not familiar with this album, please check it out!  A definite favorite!  Click HERE to find the album and listen to some samples.

This week’s winner, chosen randomly from all of the correct answers, is… (Drum roll, please…) KATHY!  Congrats, Kathy!  You’re this week’s Trivia Superstar!

A giant MAHALO to all of you for taking the time to participate in this week’s ALOHA FRIDAY TRIVIA CHALLENGE!   I hope you’ll play along next week, too!

Happy weekend, gang.

A hui hou…