Thu, 4 December 2014
Although perhaps better known as a comedienne, as a showroom performer Karen Keawehawaii could do it all – from emcee to singer with a cry-like break in her voice (what would be called ha`i for the male singers) reminiscent of singer/composer Lena Machado. Perhaps Karen heard the resemblance too for she would cover at least two Machado compositions on each of her first five LPs.
But it is as funny lady that Karen may be best known – starting out as co-host of Channel 9 bingo with Kirk Matthews and parlaying this into a career hosting a variety of local radio, TV, and live events. One of these was the Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contests in the 2000s in which she joked about my non-resident status by introducing me as being from the “08638” and “area code 609.”
Have A Merry Karen Christmas is a beautiful album which would rank higher on Ho`olohe Hou’s 25 Greatest Christmas Albums from Hawai`i if it were not such a “period piece.” Although her voice harkens back to a golden era of singers from Hawai`i, the recordings alas cannot be considered quite so timeless since they were recorded in the 1980s, and Hawaiian music in the 1980s was stuck in the unique sounds of the 80s – right down to the keyboards and drum machines. But there are moments on Have A Merry Karen Christmas that may be among the most beautiful of any of the holiday recordings ever produced in the islands. On the two cuts I have selected for your enjoyment – my two favorites from the album – Karen achieves a soulfulness reminiscent of Mahalia Jackson – proving again that Karen was more than a funny lady, but also a true singer’s singer possessing genuine “chops.”
Although Karen remains active on the entertainment scene, she picks and chooses her public appearance opportunities now – as befitting a living legend. Sadly, none of Karen’s LPs or CDs have been rereleased in the MP3 era, and all of her CDs are out of print. And so it has been nearly 30 years since most have heard Have A Merry Karen Christmas – an album never available in the digital era, an album so rare that there wasn’t a single image of its original cover on the Internet before this blog post. I hope you enjoy hearing these Christmas treasures again and honoring a tremendously funny and loving lady who once honored me with a funny and heart-warming introduction on one of the most important evenings of my life.
Next time: #21 on Ho`olohe Hou’s list of the 25 Greatest Christmas Albums from Hawai`i…
Direct download: 22_Christmas_-_Karen_Keawehawaii_-_Have_A_Merry_Karen_Christmas.mp3
Category:70s and 80s -- posted at: 5:44am EDT