Tue, 18 November 2014
As we continue to celebrate Hawaii Calls in the 1950s, here are a few more from the show’s longtime bass player and frequently unidentified singer, Jimmy Kaopuiki.
Jimmy opens a 1961 program with his rendition of “Ka`anoi.” This is a very old song that is often attributed to no composer in particular but simply to “Traditional.” But ethnomusicologist Keola Donaghy researched this song much more thoroughly. From his response to Hawaiian lyrics website huapala.org:
This mele was published in a songbook "Ka Ho`onanea o Nā Home Hawai`i", printed in 1888, by the Honolulu Commercial Advertiser, forerunner of [the] Honolulu Advertiser. The composer is credited as Kamealoha, which may have been John [Kamealoha Almeida]'s adoptive father, Paulo Kamealoha. This song also appeared in the Hawaiian language newspaper "Ke Ko`o o Hawai`i", 29 Augate 1883, Buke 1, Helu 2, pg. 8. It is given as a meleinoa for Kapi`olani, is credited to Kamehaokalani, and includes different stanzas and lyrics from the mele credited to Kamealoha. The melody as it is sung today is different from the way it was sung then.
“Hanohano Hawai`i” is one of many Hawaiian songs which take us on a tour of its major islands. Each verse is largely the same in its format – naming the island and its most famous flower. (For Hawai`i, it is the beautiful lehua, for Maui the roselani, for O`ahu the delicate ilima blossom, and for Kaua`i the mokihana berry.) Other similar songs (such as “Na Moku `Eha”) also extol the virtues of each island’s highest mountain peak. But the only peaks in this song are offered by Kaopuiki’s stunning falsetto – a facet of his many talents that has likely been forgotten by most as he has never used this singing technique on record.
We will hear more from Jimmy Kaopuiki when we celebrate Hawaii Calls 80th anniversary in June 2015.
Next time: Another unheralded support player of the 1950s and 60s Hawaii Calls cast whose voice always ensured a sunnier day…