When Bill Tapia, Napua Stevens Poire, Jacqueline "Skylark" Rosetti, Fred and Ernest Tavares, and Kalapana receive the Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts Lifetime Achievement Award today, they’ll join a long list of individuals and groups who have been recognized in the local music industry since the award was founded — as the Sidney Grayson Award — in 1978.
Internationally known Hawaiian entertainer and recording artist Hilo Hattie was the first to receive the honor. In the many years that have followed the award has recognized the work of recording artists, songwriters, record producers, recording industry figures, record retailers, concert promoters and radio station disk jockeys.
This year’s honorees represent that diversity.
Bill Tapia, 103, is an ukulele virtuoso and the last working musician of his generation. The late Napua Stevens Poire was a singer, recording artist and cultural resource. Fred and Ernest Tavares were musicians and recording artists active in the middle of the last century. Jacqueline "Skylark" Rosetti — known for many years as the "Honolulu Skylark" — was active in local radio for more than three decades and a member of the HARA Board of Governors for much of that time.
Kalapana was one of the two biggest local groups of the 1970s and recorded four hit albums — "Kalapana," "Kalapana II," "Kalapana III" and "Many Classic Moments" — during that period. The group had broken up by the end of the decade but reformed for a reunion concert in 1982. Three of the four founding members — Malani Bilyeu, Mackey Feary and DJ Pratt — introduced a new Kalapana band in 1986 and that group has continued to perform to the present day, minus Feary, who died in 1999.
The award was originally named in honor of KCCN owner Sidney Grayson, a central figure in the creation of the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 1978. HARA took over administration of the Hokus in 1982 and removed Grayson’s name from the award five years later. It has been the Lifetime Achievement Award ever since.
In the early years there was one awardee per year. HARA commemorated the Hokus’ 10th anniversary in 1987 by presenting five awards, and celebrated its own 10th anniversary with another group of five awards in 1992. For the next few years HARA presented two awards each year. From there the annual distribution was expanded to three.
The next step was removing the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards show and creating a separate show. This was done for several reasons. One was the legitimate desire to honor elderly entertainers while they were still alive rather than honoring them posthumously — doing it one per year wasn’t fast enough.
A second was the awareness that some elderly honorees might not make a good impression of themselves in a live telecast. A third was the fact that presenting a separate show was an opportunity to sell more tickets — and that a show with five judiciously chosen honorees would sell more tickets than a show honoring only two.
HARA has honored five people or groups annually ever since. Honoring individuals for their lifetime achievement has been straightforward despite the "horse trading " that goes on each year among HARA board members in deciding who the honorees are going to be.
Honoring a group for the "lifetime achievement" of the group has often been problematic — especially when individual members of the group have had successful high-profile careers as solo artists.
In 2005 HARA gave a Lifetime Achievement Award to Hui ‘Ohana, a trio that had recorded a series of popular Hawaiian albums in the mid ’70s and then reunited for a year or so in the late ’80s. The problem was that one member of trio, Ledward Kaapana, has also been so successful as a solo artist that there was no question his career accomplishments made him worthy of a Lifetime Achievement Award in his own right.
However, another member of the trio, Kaapana’s cousin, the late Dennis Pavao, had also had a successful solo career. Honoring Kaapana without also honoring Pavao would not sit well with Pavao’s family.
The problem with that was that honoring Kaapana and Pavao would be seen as a slap in the face for the third member of the group, Kaapana’s twin brother, Nedward Kaapana. Ned had done almost nothing as a recording artist outside of Hui ‘Ohana but certainly did not deserve the embarrassment of being left out.
And so, HARA recognized the relatively short-lived "lifetime achievement" of Hui ‘Ohana. Ledward Kaapana, and probably Dennis Pavao, will probably get a solo Lifetime Achievement Award sometime in the future.
Honoring the Surfers in 2007 for that group’s lifetime achievements was simple and straightforward. There had only been one change in the group’s official roster throughout its history — and 14 years after Joe Stevens replaced Bernie Ching he was still joking about being "the new guy" in the group.
The Society Of Seven, also recipients in 2007, was another story. Close to two dozen people had been members of the SOS group since the original septet opened in the Outrigger Main Showroom in 1969. Only three of the seven who attended the awards show — founding members Tony Ruivivar and Bert Sagum, and Hoku Low, who joined them in August 1977 — had played on any of the recordings for which the SOS was presumably being honored. Ironically, HARA had not allowed the SOS’ recordings on the Hoku ballot in the ’80s ballots because the SOS either recorded for a national record label or was not represented in Hawaii by a local record distributor.
(The SOS members who could have been recognized along with Ruivivar, Sagum and Low for contributing to the group’s lifetime achievements as local recording artists include "Little Albert" Maligmat, Roberto Nievera, Jun Polistico, Don Gay, Stan Robertson, Eddie Remirez, Alfredo Romero, Billy Rivera, the late Terry Lucido, the late Gary Bautista and Ruivivar’s brother, the late Danny Ruivivar).
When HARA announced plans to honor the Sons of Hawai’i in 2009, the group’s leader, Eddie Kamae, said the only way he would agree to it would be if the honor were extended to everyone who had been a member of the group — not only the iconic musicians from the early years. Some members of the board wanted to honor only the early members, but Kamae would not be denied.
In the end, every one who had recorded as an official member of the Sons of Hawai’i was included in the honor.
Kamae and Gabby Pahinui, another early member of the group, have also received individual Lifetime Achievement Awards. Several other former Sons — Dennis Kamakahi and Moe Keale, certainly — should receive individual Lifetime Achievements in the future.
The decision to honor Kalapala this year deserves the same close scrutiny and a quick history of the group.
Kalapana was formed as a quartet — Malani Bilyeu, Mackey Feary, DJ Pratt and Kirk Thompson. The group recorded its first album, "Kalapana," in 1975 with studio sidemen playing drums and bass. Alvin Fejarang (drums) and Michael Paulo (sax) performed as sidemen on "Kalapana II" and became full members of the group along with bassist Randy Aloya after Feary quit the group early in 1977. The members of the group on the next two albums — "Kalapana III" and "Many Classics Moments" — were Bilyeu, Pratt, Thompson, Fejarang, Paulo and Aloya.
Kalapana left Hawaii in 1978 and went through numerous personnel changes until Pratt was the only original member left. Kalapana recorded albums in Japan that were not distributed here. Pratt finally dissolved the group and returned to Hawaii.
In 1982 Tom Moffatt presented a Kalapana reunion concert at the Waikiki Shell and subsequently released a "live" album of the concert — "Kalapana Reunion." The membership then was Bilyeu, Feary, Thompson, Fejarang and Paulo, plus Kimo Cornwell, a Hawaii-born musician who had joined the group after they left Hawaii, and guitarist John Rapoza.
"Hurricane," recorded in 1986, was Kalapana’s first studio album as a Hawaii-based group since "Many Classic Moments." At that time Kalapana was officially a quartet — Bilyeu, Feary, Pratt and bassist Kenji Sano. The studio sidemen for the project were Paulo and Cornwell plus Wendell Ching, Jerry Davis, George Tavy and Gaylord Holomalia.
Holomalia was subsequently invited to join the group. He has been its foundation ever since.
SIDNEY GRAYSON AWARD/LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS (1978-2011)
Sidney Grayson Award
1978 – Hilo Hattie
1979 – Don Ho
1980 – Genoa Keawe
1981 – Larry Lindsey Kimura
1982 – Jack de Mello
1983 – William S. "Bill" Murata
1984 – Maddy Lam
1985 – R. Alex Anderson
1986 – Vickie ‘I’i Rodrigues
Lifetime Achievement Award
1987 – Sol K. Bright
Young O. Kang
1988 – Irmgard Farden Aluli
Charles K.L Davis
1989 – Kahauanu Lake
1990 – Arthur Lyman
Alice Friedlund & The Halekulani Girls
1991 – Mahi Beamer
1992 – Nona Beamer
1993 – Martha Hohu
1994 – Ed Kenney
1995 – Violet Lei Collins
1996 – Anuhea Brown
1997 – Alfred Apaka
1998 – Annie Kerr Singers
Myrtle K. Hilo
Donald P. McDiarmid Jr.
1999 – Lena Machado
Kimo Wilder McVay
2000 – George Chun
2001 – Myra English
Violet Pahu Lilikoi
2002 – Haunani Kahalewai
Nora Keahi Santos
2003 – Jerry Byrd
Linda Dela Cruz
2004 – Kawai Cockett
2005 – Hui ‘Ohana
Bill Ali’iloa Lincoln
2006 – Dick Jensen
Leila Hohu Ki’aha
Herbert Ohta Sr. (Ohta-san)
2007 – Gabe Baltazar
Society Of Seven
2008 – Edna Farden Bekeart
2009 – Cecilio & Kapono
Eddie Kamae and The Sons of Hawai’i
Keola & Kapono Beamer
John Piilani Watkins
2010 – Ida Keli’i Chun
The Isaacs Ohana
Mahaka Sons of Ni’ihau
2011 – Kalapana
Jacqueline "Skylark" Rosetti
Napua Stevens Poire
Fred and Ernest Tavares