Tue, 29 January 2013
Today Iolani Kamauu is known for his magic as an arranger working in tandem with his wife whose star rose so very quickly over the last decade, Natalie Ai Kamauu. The combination of Nat’s angelic voice and Iolani’s musical settings forged a new era in Hawaiian music - a sound uniquely their own. But Iolani was a fine musician long before his musical - and life - partnership with Nat.
Nearly 25 years ago Iolani joined forces with Trevor Maunakea, Kanamu Akana, and Alden Levi to form the group known as Kawaiola. Their one and only recording together - “Ho’oheno I Ka Pu’uwai” - is really quite lovely in the vein of the Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau and later Ho’okena. It must have been difficult to be a musician in Hawai’i in the 1980s - to straddle the sensitive border of tradition and progress. But Iolani and Kawaiola did this with tremendous artistic - if, perhaps, not critical - success. Combining traditional instrumentation with their own unique twist on church choir-style harmony, listen to how they handle such Hawaiian chestnuts as “Kaulana O Waimanalo” and “Maika’i Ka Makani O Kohala.”
Hauoli la hanau e Iolani!