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Yamanaka triumphs with 4 Na Hoku awards

By John Berger

LAST UPDATED: 5:10 p.m. HST, May 30, 2011

Special Coverage: Na Hoku Hanohano Awards

Big Island recording artist Mark Yamanaka won big Sunday night, matching the first-time successes of Hawaiian music superstars Willie K and Keali‘i Reichel, as his debut album, “Lei Pua Kenikeni,” won Album of the Year at the 2011 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

Yamanaka also won as Male Vocalist of the Year and Most Promising Artist, and his “Kaleoonalani” won him the composer’s award, Song of the Year.

Willie K was the first to sweep the three categories, doing it with his debut album, “Kahaiali‘i,” in 1992. Reichel became the second when he did it with his debut album, “Kawaipunahele,” in 1995. Yamanaka is now the third.

The Hilo resident picked up a fourth Hoku, Song of the Year, for “Kaleoonalani,” a song he wrote for his daughter.

It was a big night as well for Napua Makua, whose second album, “Mohalu,” scored her second win in the Female Vocalist category. Her debut album, “Pihana,” which she recorded as Napua Grieg, won the category in 2008, so she is now two-for-two in the category. Makua also won Hawaiian Album and

Favorite Entertainer, with a fourth Hoku going to the album’s graphics designer, Wailani Artates.

“Hula is the reason I sing,” said Makua, who seemed surprised at her award Willie K’s win for Christmas Album made him another two-for-two winner. His first Christmas album, “Willie Kalikimaka” won the category in 2000.

Kainani Kahaunaele swept the adjudicated Hawaiian-language categories, winning both Hawaiian Language Performance and Haku Mele. She has now won Hawaiian Language Performance twice: Her previous album won the award in 2004.

“Amy Hanaiali‘i and Slack Key Masters of Hawai‘i,” the group project by Amy Hanaiali‘i Gilliom, Dennis Kamakahi, Elmer “Sonny” Lim Jr., Chino Montero, Cyril Pahinui and Jeff Peterson, won only one of the five awards it was up for, but the single win was enough to make it a big night for guitarist Montero. Montero had played on several Hoku-winning albums but as a sideman he had not been eligible for a Hoku when they won. This time he received a Hoku for his work.

2011 Na Hoku Award Winners:

>> Most Promising Artist: Mark Yamanaka, “Lei Pua Kenikeni” (Hulu Kupuna)

>> Female Vocalist of the Year: Napua Makua, “Mohalu” (Pihana)

>> Male Vocalist of the Year: Mark Yamanaka, “Lei Pua Kenikeni” (Hulu Kupuna)

>> Group of the Year: KuMZ, “On the Summit” (Kauakoko Foundation)

>> Christmas Album: “Willie Wonderland,” Willie K (Island Soul)

>> Album of the Year (to artist and producers): “Lei Pua Kenikeni,” Mark Yamanaka (Hulu Kupuna); Hulu Kupuna Productions LLC and Kale Chang, producers

>> Song of the Year (composer’s award): “Kaleoonalani,” Mark Yamanaka, from “Lei Pua Kenikeni,” Mark Yamanaka (Hulu Kupuna)

>> Single of the Year: “He Lei Kaulana,” Na Palapalai (Hulu Kupuna)

>> EP of the Year: “Solo Ukulele: The King of Pop,” Abe Lagrimas Jr. & Friends (Pass Out)

>> Anthology of the Year (producer’s award): “The Best of Na Palapalai,” Na Palapalai (Koops 2), Shawn Pimental, producer

>> Compilation of the Year (producer’s award): “Kona,” various artists (Ua Mau), Dave Tucciarone, producer

>> Contemporary Album of the Year: “Forevermore,” Ben Vegas & Maila Gibson (no label)

>> Hawaiian Album of the Year: “Mohalu,” Napua Makua (Pihana)

>> Instrumental Album of the Year: “‘Ukulele Nahenahe,” Herb Ohta Jr. (Lele)

>> Island Music Album of the Year: “Amy Hanaiali‘i and Slack Key Masters of Hawai‘i,” Amy Hanaiali‘i and Slack Key Masters of Hawai‘i (Peterson)

>> Jazz Album of the Year: “Django Would Go,” Hot Club of Hulaville (Hulaville)

>> R&B/Hip Hop: “Coconut Wireless” Kepa Kruse (Petroglyph)

>> Reggae Album: “The Green,” The Green (SheeHandsomeDevil)

>> Religious Album: “Somewhere Up Ahead – Gospel Hymns of Hawaii, Vol. II,” Ata Damasco (Ululoa)

>> Rock Album: “Stream Dreams,” Kamuela Kahoano (Green Light Go/Kahoano)

>> Slack Key Album: “Play With Me Papa,” John Keawe (Homestead)

>> Graphics: Wailani Artates, for “Mohalu,” Napua Makua (Pihana)

>> Liner Notes: Puakea Nogelmeier, Kalikolihau Hannahs-Paik and Kellen Paik, for “English Rose,” Kupaoa (Hulu Kupuna)

>> Favorite Entertainer (by public vote): Napua Makua

Adjudicated Awards

>> Haku Mele (composer’s award for first-time recorded Hawaiian-language song or chant): “‘Ohai ‘Ula,” by Kainani Kahaunaele, from “‘Ohai ‘Ula,” Kainani Kahaunaele (Koops 2)

>> Hawaiian Language Performance: Kainani Kahaunaele, “‘Ohai ‘Ula” (Koops2)

>> Engineering: Bryan Sanchez and Jeffrey James, for “Hawaiian Girls,” TTYM-Talk To You Music (TTYM)

Special Awards

>> Ki Ho‘alu Foundation Legacy Award: Pekelo Cosma

>> Moe Keale “Aloha Is” Award for Community Service: Carole Kai

>> Steel Guitar Legacy Award: Lorene Ruymar

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