Thu, 25 December 2014
More than a decade into her recording career while still with the oddly named 49th State Records (the record label which gave her a start in the record business in 1947), Genoa Keawe and Her Hula Maids recorded a few holiday-themed singles. By 1959 these would be compiled – along with singles from other 49th State artists – into the LP entitled Santa’s Gone Hawaiian. As you can tell by the image here, while the album has been remastered and rereleased on CD and MP3 courtesy of Michael Cord and his Hana Ola/Cord International enterprise, my coveted original copy was stamped (as many 49th State releases were in the era) on red vinyl. (The dirty secret is that while the records may have been prettier, the cheap vinyl used to press such colorful records was actually of the lowest quality and resulted in a terrible sounding record right out of the package.)
Of the many selections Aunty Genoa recorded with a Christmas flavor, my favorite has always been “Po La`i E” – a Hawaiian version of “Silent Night.” A natural born cynic, I often wonder if artists that make Christmas-themed recordings put stock in what they are singing about. (And this is particularly true when such popular Jewish artists as Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, and Bob Dylan sing of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “O Holy Night,” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”) But when we hear Aunty Genoa sing “Silent Night,” those who knew her believe her because we knew and understood her deep and abiding faith because for her it was the aspect of her life that came before all else – the thing that made all other things possible. When Aunty Genoa sings of a Savior born unto us, we believe her because she was a Believer, and her voice has the power and conviction to make a Believer of others.
And this is why I can’t help but think of Aunty Genoa on this day and why Ho`olohe Hou offers up her unique rendition of “Po La`i E” as our special gift to friends and followers of this site. Thank you for making 2014 the most special year ever – a year filled with friendships old and new, all rooted in our love of Hawaiian music and culture.
With love and best wishes for all good things in this season and always…
~ Bill Wynne