#8 – Amy Hānaiali`i – A Hawaiian Christmas

It has been so many years now since Amy Hānaiali`i burst on to the local Hawai`i entertainment scene that many of us have forgotten that – like Melveen Leed two decades before her – Amy started out as a pop and jazz vocalist. (Her first album, 1995’s Native Child released under the name Amy Gilliom, was more of a mix of pop and jazz and Hawaiian than her later more Hawaiian fare). And like Melveen before her, Amy’s pop and jazz roots give her a unique approach to Hawaiian music. Along with Hapa and Keali`i Reichel, Amy’s early collaborations with Willie K. were critically important in reigniting the Hawaiian music scene in the 1990s. Moreover, despite having a lineage steeped in Hawaiian culture (her grandmother is hula master Jennie Napua Woodd of both the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and New York City’s famed Lexington Hotel Hawaiian Room), Amy is not like anything that came before. She sings and composes in the Hawaiian language, but listening to Amy does not evoke images of Genoa Keawe, Lena Machado, Leina`ala Haili, or Iwalani Kahalewai.

In short, Amy is her own woman and a true artist.

This is what made her 2007 release, A Hawaiian Christmas, such a welcome addition to the canon of holiday music from Hawai`i. It, too, was like nothing that came before. Listen to her take (in the Hawaiian language) on “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (taken in a jaunty and joyous 6/8 time signature rather than the usual 4/4), the sweet steel guitar of Bobby Ingano on “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (also sung in Hawaiian), the Brazilian backbeat on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” or her lush and lovely “Silent Night” so regal that it really does signal the coming of a King.

Amy Hānaiali`i’s A Hawaiian Christmas more than warranted the 2008 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Christmas Album of the Year, and so, too, its place on Ho`olohe Hou’s list of the 25 Greatest Christmas Albums from Hawai`i.  You can hear the entire beautiful album on such major music streaming services as Spotify and Rhapsody or take a copy home or gift it to family and friends by downloading it in MP3 format from iTunes and Amazon.com.

Next time: #7 on Ho`olohe Hou’s list of the 25 Greatest Christmas Albums from Hawai`i…


Direct download: 8_Christmas_-_Amy_Hanaialii_-_A_Hawaiian_Christmas.mp3
Category:90s and 00s -- posted at: 5:52am EDT