Genoa Keawe - More of the 49th State Years

In an earlier post I discussed the creation of 49th State Records and Genoa Keawe’s earliest recordings for that label. The label did well, and with more than 140 singles to her credit, Aunty Genoa’s importance to the label’s success cannot be underestimated. Here are a few more of her recordings from that era – nearly a half-hour of classics of the Hawaiian repertoire as only Aunty Genoa could perform them.  

“Hanauma” – a classic writing collaboration from Mary Kawena Pukui and Maddy Lam – extols the beauty of the Hanauma Bay area of the east end of O`ahu.  

“Marcelle Vahine” is not a Hawaiian standard but, rather, a Tahitian one. The verses are done in more of the Tahitian style with percussion accompaniment, but the choruses take on more of the Hawaiian style – complete with steel guitar and piano, instruments you would not typically hear used in the Tahitian aparima style. As mentioned previously, Aunty Genoa telephoned me when these songs were originally broadcast as part of my radio program, and this was one of those songs she had not even remembered ever recording. She considered hearing it again a precious memory almost lost forever. Aunty Genoa’s version of “Marcelle Vahine” remains out of print – not yet available on CD or MP3.  

A favorite among Hawaiian falsetto singers, the George Huddy composition “Nawiliwili” speaks of the beauty and history of the harbor of the same name on the island of Kaua`i. Like many songs which speak of one of the islands or an area/district of an island, the lyric references that district’s most distinct geographic feature (typically, a mountain – in this case, Ha`upu) and its most famous flower (mokihana, the flower representing the island of Kaua`i). 

“Fireman’s Hula” – sometimes referred to by its Hawaiian title, “Hula O Ka Hui Ka`awai” – is another favorite of falsetto singers because of its huge intervallic leaps in the melody – fun for Hawaiian-style yodeling, sometimes referred to as ha`i. (Aunty Genoa’s singing in the upper registers is not unlike the male falsetto, but music scholars debate whether or not the technique is the same for women as for men – some refusing to refer to the female head voice as “falsetto.” Most Hawaiian singers do not make this distinction and would likely refer to Aunty Genoa, Linda Dela Cruz, or even some of today’s favorites – such as Kehau Tamure and Iwalani Ho’omanawanui Apo of the group Kuini – as “female falsettos.”) The song speaks of the many attributes of the fireman. But given what we discussed in an earlier blog post about kaona – the hidden layers of meaning in Hawaiian mele – I’ll leave it to you to decide which of the firemen’s “skills” composer Matilda Kauwe was referring to… And, again, Aunty Genoa’s version of “Fireman’s Hula” is out of print.  

“Do The Hula” is the most prescient selection in this set as it was written by Don McDiarmid, founder of Hula Records, the label with which Aunty Genoa would continue her career after the demise of 49th State Records. It is also a song she reprised more than 40 years later in a duet with Zanuck Lindsey’s acclaimed Hawaiian swing group, Hula Joe and the Hutjumpers. (You may hear this collaboration on a future edition of Ho’olohe Hou.) But Aunty Genoa’s 49th State Records version of “Do The Hula” is also out of print.  

“Ku’u Ipo Onaona” is another offering from prolific composer Maddy Lam (see “Hanauma” above). It is a love song Hawaiian style as only they can speak of love, with such lyrics as: 

`O `oe no ka`u i mana`o ai lā / You are always on my mind 

 He mea nui `oe na ka pu`uwai lā / You overwhelm my heart 

 Hau`oli au i kou leo nahenahe / Your gentle voice gives me pleasure 

 Kou leo me ke aloha / Your voice of love 

Aunty Genoa’s version of this song is also no longer available on CD or MP3.  

“Kaloaloa” is another clever song from the pen of John Pi’ilani Watkins (see “Mahalo E Hilo Hanakahi in a previous post).  The song speaks of the area around Honolulu International Airport – referring to the runway lights as kaimana (diamonds). But the song also speaks of the approach of a loved one. Might a lover be returning home? And this, too, is the Hawaiian style of composing: If your love arrives home safely, sing praises to the airport!  

“Anahola” is perhaps the rarest song offered up in this set – not only because Aunty Genoa’s recording is (again, sadly) out of print, but also because it is a song that has been recorded by few artists since (except for Kawai Cockett). The song makes reference to homestead land on the island of Kaua`i. But the song speaks of locations in the Anahola district – Kalalea, a prominent hill overlooking Anahola, and Konanae, a nearby hole created – as the legend goes – when a spear was hurled at a hill. Again I ask you – in the spirt of kaona – was composer Jeremiah Kaialoa speaking of places… or people?  

Finally, Aunty Genoa sings of “Nani Waialeale,” the mountain that is the signature geographic feature of the island of Kaua`i. Composer Dan Pokipala wrote of what is not only Kaua`i’s highest peak, but also one of the wettest places on earth. And, with that, I will let you let your mind wander once again…  

Next time: More from Aunty Genoa on 49th State Records…


Direct download: Hoolohe_Hou_-_2-26-14_-_Genoa_Keawe_Tribute_-_Part_3.mp3
Category:Artists/Personalities -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT