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Henry Kaleialoha Allen’s new CD up for Na Hoku Award

By Staff | May 15, 2014

Henry Kaleialoha Allen performs with hula dancers on Holland America Line cruises.

WEST MAUI – With a new CD, new book on Hawaiian sheet music and performances booked into 2015, Henry Kaleialoha Allen is as busy as ever at 80 years young.

The Napili jazz and Hawaiian music artist’s CD, “Step Into My Life,” is nominated for a Na Hoku Hanohano Award in the jazz category.

Recorded in Los Angeles, the CD features top studio musicians Wayne Henderson (trombone), Nate Phillips (bass), Bruce Carter (drums), Bobby Lyle (keyboards), Deshannon High (trumpet) and percussionist Vince “Mad Dog” Tenort.

Allen’s good friend, legendary jazz guitarist George Benson, plays on three songs.

“Those are the players that were put together one time, for me, and I was fortunate to have them here with me only one time. I had to fly to L.A., as they were the best out at that time at Allan Sides Studio, Ocean Way, in L.A.,” Henry said.

“Herb Ono, who owned the studio Sounds of Hawaii, believed in me and put out over $70,000, which was big money in that time for a recording like that It was a once-in-a- lifetime event for me, with music greats like this,” he continued.

Amid the project, Henry got into a car accident with a drunk driver and was seriously injured. The album sat in limbo for some 20 years.

“The original tapes were damaged and all black and could not be saved. At that time, there was no saving of music on the tapes. Herb Ono’s son made a studio cassette of the final recording. It all was a ‘first take.’ It was from this cassette, found 20 years later, that the disc was redone, and Dave Russell Studio in Paia saved and brought to life this project.”

Allen and his wife, Sherron, will attend the 37th annual awards ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center on May 24.

Jazz Times Magazine is doing a special on Henry for its Guitar Issue (July/August) for “Step Into My Life,” which will be up for Grammy Awards in various categories.

Henry’s new book, “Treasures of Hawaiian Sheet Music,” features favorite and classic songs from Hawaii’s golden years for guitar, ukulele, steel guitar and other instruments.

“Nobody has taken time in Hawaii to write a book for Hawaiian music a book of all Hawaiian songs,” Henry explained.

“There was none for sale in any of the stores for the beautiful Hawaiian songs of yesterday; and this is what the public has been asking for. These songs mean something to Hawaii. All the songs that I like are in this book. These songs are from my music library, which consists of over 500 songs in Hawaiian music and jazz. This book is sorely needed in the school system of Hawaii, as it is complete, and the writers are well-known music figures from our state loved the music and were all professionals.”

His three books are available at Barnes and Noble in Lahaina.

Henry recently appeared with Howard Dicus on KGMB’s “Morning Sunrise Show” in Honolulu to discuss his new jazz CD, and Sen. Brickwood Galuteria interviewed Henry about his life and career in Hawaiian music for a program on OLELO TV called “Kupuna Power.”

The segment can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch? v=rHSb2seOOpA.

Henry has been busy this year serving as the Hawaiian Ambassador on board Holland America Line cruises, with trips booked into next year.

On cruises, he plays “Aloha Hawaii Concerts” backed by the HalCats, performs “Blue Hawaiian Melodies” shows with hula dancers and teaches ukulele lessons for passengers, among other programs.

Henry and his son, Paki Allen, were recruited by Holland America to produce a Cultural Enrichment Series for all of the company’s Hawaii’s sailings, as well as its South Pacific cruises.

The couple is now sailing through Hawaii and then down to the South Pacific, French Polynesia and the Marquesas until May 15.

As detailed in a state resolution proclaiming June 2, 2013 “Henry Kaleialoha Allen Day” in Hawaii, Henry started playing the ukulele in the third grade but soon took interest in Hawaiian steel guitar and jazz guitar.

His early career included frequent guest appearances on “Hawaii Calls,” an emblematic radio show that ran from 1935-75. He also played in Waikiki hotels and clubs in Los Angeles and other cities throughout America.

He’s shared the stage with Don Ho at the Greek Theatre and Benson at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, and worked in television and film, “always promoting the spirit of Aloha and ensuring that Hawaiian words utilized in productions were correctly pronounced, including the lyrics to the ‘Hawaiian Wedding Song’ featured in the 1961 Elvis Presley film, ‘BlueHawaii,’ ” the state resolution explains.

Henry was also recognized for his books on steel guitar and ukulele, being honored as “The Master Artist” of the Hawaiian steel guitar and Hawaiian music by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and for his recognition as a “Living Legend of Hawaiian Music” by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists.

Henry is planning a music festival in the future on Maui. He is also slated to perform on the Mainland soon.