Photography by Tina Mahina
Hawaii has its own red carpet event, and it’s called the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. Attendees don their most flattering gowns and –gasp!—actual suits instead of aloha shirts, and anxiously yet gracefully await the recognition of their favorite Hawaiian music artists in the ballroom of the Hawaii Convention Center.
From instrumental composition and vocalists of the year, to reggae, slack key and rock albums of the year—the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, also affectionately referred to as “Na Hokus,” cover everything from favorite songs and albums, to most entertaining and best graphic artists. And, in the Hawaii style, everyone cheers for everyone.
As a community, Hawaii’s music artists are so supportive of one another; working closely together on many projects, dozens of names came up as finalists repeatedly, so it’s hard to say who truly stood out among the rest when it’s more of a celebration of the industry as a whole.
Of course, there are some outliers, like Kealii Reichel, who received seven awards including Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Favorite Entertainer of the Year and the Haku Mele Award, or Composer’s Award; and Kawika Kahiapo, winner of both Island Music Album of the Year and Slack Key Album of the Year. With so many esteemed musicians in these categories, to place first is a true feat of talent.
Breathtaking performances by Ginai, winner of the Christmas Album of the Year, and Maggie Herron, winner of Jazz Album of the Year for Good Thing, dazzled the audience. While the incredible talents present at the awards often perform year-round, something about being under those lights on this magical night gives it all an extra special glow. The most repeated phrase of the night, “oh, wow.”
The Na Hoku Hanohano Awards bring Mele Mei, Hawaii Music Month, to a beautiful close, but the music lingers on through the islands, all year long.
Click here to view all of this year’s winners. See you next year!