#4 - Kuana Torres Kahele - Hilo for the Holidays
Release Date: 12/22/2014
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Kuana Torres Kahele is a force of nature. Seemingly perpetually on tour somewhere, you turn around and suddenly there is a brand new CD from his camp replete with brand new compositions from his pen. And you’re thinking… Didn’t I just buy your new CD? And with each release – either on his own or with his aggregation, Nā Palapalai (a rotating collective of Hawai`i’s finest musicians but always with Kuana at the helm) – he repeatedly reaches the top of both the Billboard World Music and iTunes charts.
The question audiences should be asking is… Does Kuana ever sleep?
It would appear his aim is world domination, but even the most successful Hawaiian music CDs do not sell anywhere in the neighborhood of those from Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, or Justin Bieber. No, more accurately, Kuana’s goal would appear to be to make a Hawaiian music lover out of as many people as he can in the short time God gives us on this planet. A veritable Santa Clause of Hawaiian music, Kuana’s workshop is constantly in session.
Like Keali`i Reichel’s Maluhia which ranks only one position lower on this countdown, Kuana’s Home for the Holidays is the perfect blend of traditional Christmas fare and new original lyrics. The title song will be a classic (if it isn’t already), and the addition of local Big Island touches to “Home for the Holidays” (his nod to “Numbah One Day of Christmas”) will bring a smile to the faces of Hawaiians and Hawaiians-at-heart missing “home” at this time of year. He reprises the rarely heard “Here Comes Santa In A Red Canoe” (composed by the too rarely spoken of Johnny Kamano who will be honored here at Ho`olohe Hou at some point for his contributions to Hawaiian music). And Kuana proves that he has the heart of a child by throwing away all care in his version of The Chipmunks “Christmas, Don’t Be Late.” The Hawaiian lyric is not a translation as such (it rarely is), but rather an improvement as it puts the true meaning of Christmas back in what was a song for children with its nod of thanks to Jesus for the bounty He gives us in this season and all year long.
It probably goes without saying that Hilo for the Holidays garnered the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Christmas Album of the Year, and the accolade is well deserved. But the album would be a worthy addition to your holiday CD collection even if it had earned no awards, and despite its very recent release the instant classic merits this position on Ho`olohe Hou’s list of the 25 Greatest Christmas Albums from Hawai`i. You can hear the entire delightful album on such streaming services as Spotify or Rhapsody or download it to your iPhone or iPod from iTunes or Amazon.com.
Next time: #3 on Ho`olohe Hou’s list of the 25 Greatest Christmas Albums from Hawai`i…