KAHULUI - Each May, the island music scene is abuzz with the excitement of the annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards that are presented by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts (HARA) on Oahu.
It's like the Grammy Awards - you can see lots of great artists and performances in one grand evening.
But not everyone can fly over for the festivities. That's where the Maui Arts & Cultural Center steps in - to help bring the best of the islands to Maui.
Amy Hanaiali‘i has become especially well-known for her vocal skills in ha‘i (Hawaiian falsetto singing), tutored by the beloved Aunty Genoa Keawe.
As soon as the awards are announced, the MACC programmers intercede for the Maui audience and try to book as many of the award winners as can make for it for one concert.
The MACC's third annual "Na Hoku Hou!" concert will be held on Saturday, July 13, at 6 p.m. in the Yokouchi Pavilion.
The lineup features both familiar favorites and brand new names: Melveen Leed, Amy Hanaiali'i, Na Hoa, Kamakakehau Fernandez and Mana'o Company.
Leed is a grande dame of island music, covering the genres of country, jazz and Hawaiian music. In addition to her solo career, Leed performed with the Local Divas (Carole Kai, Loyal Garner and Nohelani Cypriano). It is always a treat to welcome this former Miss Molokai to the stage!
Maui's own Hanaiali'i won two Na Hoku Hanohano Awards this year, bringing her grand total to 21. This graduate of Baldwin High School and Maui Academy of Performing Arts has also been nominated for several Grammy Awards and is one of Hawaii's top-selling female vocalists.
She was raised in a family where music and performing arts were both passion and tradition; her grandmother, Jennie Napua-Wood, was a renowned Hawaiian choreographer, and her grandfather, Lloyd Gilliom, played swing music.
Na Hoa, comprised of Ikaika Blackburn of Maui, Halehaku Seabury and Keoni Souza, were the big winners at this year's ceremony, bringing in four awards for their debut release, "Na Hoa." They won Most Promising Artist, Album of the Year, Hawaiian Music Album of the Year, and Group of the Year.
Na Hoa's music has been described as "sweet falsetto singing depicting a nostalgic era in Hawaiian music history, with vibrant voices that captivate one's emotions, ears and heart."
Fernandez is a new name on the circuit, but he has already gathered a following. His release won the Na Hoku for best Extended Play (EP) of the Year.
His education played a huge part in his love and appreciation for Hawaiian culture and music. Yet another Maui talent, he is a graduate of the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program at Kula Kaiapuni and King Kekaulike High School.
As he studied Hawaiian culture and language, he became enamored with the ukulele and the art of leo ki'eki'e (falsetto) singing.
Mana'o Company carries some history - a long period of time together and time apart. They still carry the torch for contemporary Hawaiian music with big hits in "Drop Baby Drop" and "96 Degrees in the Shade."
Tickets are $25 for standard seats, $45 for reserved table seating and $75 for an exclusive VIP package. Call 242-SHOW or purchase tickets online at www.mauiarts.org.