Hawaii Calls – Sisters Hana Hou

Continuing our look at both the talented Rodrigues sisters and the Hawaii Calls TV show which ran for a scant 26 episodes from 1965-66… 

As with “Lovely Hula Hands” previously, Nina Keali`iwahamana again leads the ladies vocal trio which is rounded out by her singing sisters Lani Custino and Lahela “Mackie” Rodrigues. And, again, Lani dances the hula for us – this time solo. Through the magic of video, Lani is accompanying herself on vocals as she dances – courtesy of the audio tracks pre-recorded in a Honolulu studio before the location shoot. But this time around the scene is in über-vivid color. 

When I began attempting to restore some of these Hawaii Calls TV segments to share at Ho`olohe Hou, I was quick to mention that these clips have seen the ravages of time. You may have difficulty believing – as I did – that they were filmed in color as they have since faded nearly to black-and-white. But this is the first of the clips I have shared where the color saturation has not diminished with time – making crystal clear the blue of the ocean and the pink of Lani’s satin holoku. The clarity of video also makes it easier to appreciate the hula by one of its finest practitioners. 

“Beyond The Reef” might be the quintessential hapa-haole song (or song extoling Hawaiian places, people, or ideals but written in English). Made famous by Bing Crosby with his 1949 recording, the lovely song was written by Jack Pitman who also composed such ­hapa-haole standards as “Goodnight Leilani E,” “Fish and Poi,” “Lovely Hula Girl,” and “The Sands of Waikiki.” And every time I hear a Jack Pitman song – songs with such a typically Hawaiian feel that continue to be beloved and performed by singers in Hawai`i to this day – I remain incredulous that Pitman hailed from Regina, Saskatchewan. 

So much for the sister act. But there is still more to come from Lani and Nina. 

Next time: Lani sings and dances at the same time 


Direct download: Lani_Custino_-_Beyond_The_Reef.mp4
Category:50s and 60s -- posted at: 1:35pm EDT