Kupaoa Releases ‘English Rose’

Kupaoa's Lihau Hannahs and Kellen Paik

Two years after the release of their Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning debut album Pili O Ke Ao, Kupaoa delivers another powerful contribution to Hawaiian music with English Rose.

The duo, comprised of Kaua’i’s Kellen Paik and Oahu’s Kalikolihau “Lihau” Hannahs, unveils their love for the Hawaiian language and their passion for original music in this 13-track CD.

“We’re always really proud about the language integrity,” says Paik, a 1999 Kapa’a High School grad. “We know how much on our side we put into the compositions and getting the compositions double checked by other experts in the field such as Puakea (Nogelmeier).”

“I also think that, for this album in particular, we hope that it shows growth musically for us,” adds Hannahs, a 1999 Kamehameha Schools grad. “For the first album, we did a lot of things that we did well at the time. I like to think that every album we do is a snapshot of where we are as musicians.”

‘English Rose’ released June 8

Kupaoa’s maturing sound reaches beyond their time spent touring and performing since the release of their album in 2008. They got their start three years prior when Paik was asked by a friend to perform at his wedding.

“I didn’t have a group to play with at the time because my group was on Kaua’i and they couldn’t make it over, so I asked Lihau if she would sing with me at the wedding and she agreed,” says Paik. “So we did our homework and put together a one-hour set for the wedding, and that was our first gig. That’s where Kupaoa began and we just kept playing music after that.”

Along with their matured sound, Hannahs and Paik hope that this album also shows the care they take in creating compositions that translate from album to stage without compromising quality.

“We keep in mind that, in the studio, you can do whatever you want creatively, but when you go on stage it’s just the two of us. So, as we arrange our music for our albums, we keep in mind that our music revolves around two voices and two instruments,” says Paik. “We don’t want to over-arrange and over-produce the tracks.”

Kaiholu was last year’s Ka Himeni Ana winner

“We also took a little more time making sure that the arrangement of the songs are more accessible to hula because we have been working with a small group of dancers more regularly,” adds Hannahs. “We have found that it’s really great to have them as a part of our overall show.”

For more on their album or upcoming shows, visit kupaoa.com

Warm up those vocal cords and get those entries in for the 26th annual Ka Himeni Ana Hawaiian music competition happening in September at Hawaii Theatre.

Founded by Richard M. Towill, the competition features amateur Hawaiian music groups performing in the “nahenahe” style, the distinctive Hawaiian music form that features sweet vocal harmony supported by unamplified acoustic instruments.

“What’s really great is this competition finds all these great undiscovered talents,” says Rick Towill, son of Richard. “Over the years we’ve had winners such as Del Beazley, Chris Kamaka, Ale’a, who have gone on to do well. So it’s wonderful because it gives them confidence and allows them to go on to be established musicians.”

Oahu native JP Lam (second from right) at the World Cup Sony 3-D Pavilion in South Africa just after he and Japanese R&B singer Misia (center) performed the song 'Maware Maware.' DJ Muro (Lam's partner in the music and fashion unit M2J) also is pictured here (second from left) along with two of Sony Music's executives. 'Maware Maware' is on the official FIFA World Cup Album 'Listen Up,' released earlier this month. They're holding up three fingers to signify that their music video has gone 3-D

Deadline to apply is June 30. All applications and recordings will be reviewed by the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. For an application or more information, visit www.hawaiianmusicmuseum.org. Throughout the years the competition has shifted from Orvis Auditorium to Hawaii Theatre, back to Orvis and finally back to Hawaii Theatre.What hasn’t changed is the core mission to provide a stage for up-and-coming talents to realize their true potential.

“Over the years it’s been really wonderful,” adds Towill. “From the beginning we would go up to Kalihi Valley and pick yellow and white ginger, because my dad wanted to have nice fragrance and nice sound. So we’ve done that for years. And now that my dad has gotten a little older, my wife and I are rallying to do a lot of the logistical stuff.”

Contest rules are: 1) Must be amateur Hawaiian music groups containing two to five members (no solo acts); 2) At least half of the group must perform with and play an instrument; 3) Instruments should be acoustic (no electric or amplified instruments, except Hawaiian steel guitar may be electric and use a small amplifier); 4) No microphones are allowed for instruments or vocals. Contestants will be judged on the quality of their vocal harmony, use of Hawaiian language and overall musicianship.

In addition to claiming the illustrious title of the competition, six cash prizes ranging from $200 to $1,200 are up for grabs, as well as an exclusive recording contract with Hula Records …

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