POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Feb 14, 2011
Grammy watchers who had hoped the Recording Academy might someday look beyond slack key in the Best Hawaiian Music Album category got what they wished for yesterday as Tia Carrere's "Huana ke Aloha," an album with original Hawaiian-language lyrics in every song and no slack key at all, was named the winner during the untelevised portion of the awards presentation.
It was Carrere's fourth time as a finalist in the category and her second win.
"Everybody thinks I'm an actress, but I'm a singer and a musician first and foremost and that's where my heart lies," Carrere said at the lectern.
Carrere previously had been nominated for another solo album, "Hawaiiana," and for two albums on which she shared performer's credits with her longtime friend, Grammy Award-winning record producer Daniel Ho. Their first album as a duo, "'Ikena," won the Grammy in 2009.
"It was very emotional up there," Carrere said shortly afterward when she spoke on the phone with the Star-Advertiser.
"It took me by surprise. I can't believe it, but at least I'm properly dressed this time. The first time I won a Grammy, I was wearing a $100 outfit from eBay. My whole outfit was worth $100. Today I'm wearing a dress and jewels worth $100,000 -- at least I'm properly dressed."
Carrere added that she and Ho record Hawaiian music "'cause we love it. ... Getting back together with Daniel and doing these records and just doing what we love is really like going back to my roots in a couple of different ways. I feel really blessed and thankful that I can do this with my friend."
Carrere brought Ho onstage with her to accept the award, saying, "He's such a wildly talented musician, and I've had the honor of working with him and calling him my friend since we were 14 years old."
Ho played piano and bass on "Huana ke Aloha" and co-produced it with lyricist Amy Ku'uleialoha Stillman, but because the album was credited to Carrere as a solo artist, he did not receive a Grammy for it.
Carrere's album prevailed over a second slack-key-free album in the category: Ho's "Polani," which was a solo ukulele project.
Other finalists in the category were Jeff Peterson's slack-key offering "Maui on My Mind," Ledward Kaapana's "The Legend" and the self-titled album by Amy Hanaiali'i and Slack Key Masters of Hawai'i, which included vocal performances in Hawaiian and English.