Island Mele: Haku Collective compilation showcases songs for keiki
Many musical gems sparkle here. The songs come from a variety of genres — Hawaiian, hapa haole, pop, folk and reggae.
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Co-producers Imua Garza and Kimie Miner are the creative core of this beautiful compilation album. She is also one of the executive producers and shares credit for the art work, while Garza mixed the recordings and co-engineered them. Miner and Garza both contribute as recording artists. He sings “He Aloha Mele” as a duet with his mother. She is the featured voice on three of the 13 selections.
Many musical gems sparkle here. The songs come from a variety of genres — Hawaiian, hapa haole, pop, folk and reggae. There’s even a bilingual version of the archetypal English lullaby, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” that has soothed generations of children ever since it was published in 1804.
Steel guitarist Casey Olsen heightens the cultural authenticity of Paula Fuga’s soothing rendition of “Pupu Hinuhinu.” The vibrant presence of Grammy-winner Kalani Pe‘a is captured with his zesty interpretation of “‘Opae E.” The late Iva Kinimaka would certainly appreciate the new treatment of his signature song, “He Aloha Mele.”
And there’s more! Miner shows her romantic side partnering with DeAndre on a bilingual remake of Sade’s 2001 pop hit, ”By Your Side.” Two songs later comes Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole singing and playing Hawaiian implements on a glorious version of “Ke Ao Nani.”
As a cultural note, The Green’s bilingual rendition of Bob Marley’s 1980 hit, “Three Little Birds,” should inspire other Hawaii-based proponents of reggae music to take the final step forward and sing reggae songs in Hawaiian rather than in faux-rasta patois.
Miner was pregnant with her second “little Miner bird” while the project was in production, and so in a way, both her children were there when she recorded her reworking of “Songbird” with Garza and her older child, ‘Omealani, providing additional vocals.
Although Miner and Garza don’t provide song lyrics or translations, the 12-page liner notes fold-out contains a wealth of information about the songs and the artists. We learn that Kalani Pe‘a grew up listening to “‘Opae E,” Paula Fuga sings “Pupu Hinahina” to “all the babies I’m so blessed to spend significant time with,” and that Anuhea recorded “True Colors” because she and her son fell in love with it when they watched the movie “Trolls.”
Josh Tatofi likes the Peter Moon/Hector Venegas classic, “Hawaiian Lullaby,” for several reasons. One of them is because when people ask him where he’s from he responds with the song’s lyrics, “Where I live, there are rainbows.”
With a great roster of participants — almost all of them Hoku Award winners — and neatly crafted arrangements, this is a beautiful introduction to contemporary Hawaiian music.
Haku Collective (Haku)