#24 – Noelani Mahoe – Hawaiian Christmas

The story of this album revolves around one of my heroes – and one of the unspoken heroes in Hawaiian music history. According to the book Hawaiian Music and Musicians, Margaret Williams was a mainland haole woman who moved to Hawai`i for health reasons. One day Williams made a recording of a boy on Waikiki Beach singing a couple of songs and released the tunes as two sides of a 45 rpm single. The record was a huge smash, and from this humble beginning Williams trudged forth and started her own record label - Tradewinds Records. According to Williams’ longtime collaborator – researcher, teacher, author, and musician Noelani Mahoe who led many Tradewinds recording sessions – “She was also strictly Hawaiian. She never learned the language, but authenticity was a must.” 

And you are assured authenticity in the hands of Mahoe who leads the group here again on the 1965 Tradewinds release simply entitled Hawaiian Christmas. And what a stellar group comprised not of the superstars of Hawaiian music, but, rather, of the most reliable session musicians in Hawaiian music history – men and women who toiled to make others sound better but who rarely had the spotlight themselves. The ladies singing group was known as the Leo Nahenahe Singers, which in addition to Noelani included Lynette Kaopuiki Paglinawan and sisters Mona and Ethelyne Teves. The gentlemen are led by my dear friend Harold Haku`ole in what he called his “Sometime Group” since they rarely performed live but only for recording sessions such as this. They included Clarence Hohu (usually on the steel guitar), Al Ka`ailau (the honorary fourth member of the Kahauanu Lake Trio who is heard on most of their records) on guitar, multi-instrumentalist Bobby Ayres, vibraphonist Francis Ho`okano, slack key guitarist Atta Isaacs, and Harold on whatever was needed to round out the group. 

This is as traditional as Hawaiian Christmas music will ever get. And so it ranks – in my humble opinion – among the 25 Greatest Christmas Albums from Hawai`i. 

Next time: #23 on Ho`olohe Hou’s list of the 25 Greatest Christmas Albums from Hawai`i 


Direct download: 24_Christmas_-_Noelani_Mahoe_-_Hawaiian_Christmas.mp3
Category:50s and 60s -- posted at: 5:12am EDT