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Grammys: ‘The Legend’ review
By John Berger / email@example.com
Ledward Kaapana (Rhythm & Roots)
Copies of Ledward Kaapana’s latest album went up on display at Borders late last month but it was evidently released without public announcement or effective industry promotion at least four months before that. How do we know? Because the deadline for the 2011 Grammy Awards was Sept. 30, 2010, and Kaapana is again a finalist in the Best Hawaiian Music Album category. This year he joins three other solo artists — Tia Carrere, Daniel Ho and Jeff Peterson — and one group, and Amy Hanaiali’i & Slack Key Masters of Hawai’i, on the ballot.
And just in case any Grammy voters don’t already know who Kaapana is, producers Chris and Milton Lau splashed the words Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar across the bottom of the front cover. Those who listen to it will find that Kaapana also sings in Hawaiian and English (falsetto and lower register), and that he plays ukulele as well as guitar.
The anonymously written liner notes reveal that the album was inspired by a visit to the remains of Kalapana — Kaapana’s hometown, now mostly buried in lava. The songs are Kaapana family favorites that he grew up playing with his family in the ’50s. The selections include “Hi’ilawe” and “Ikona.”
A single new song, “The Legend,” was written by Kaapana’s brother, the late George Kaapana Jr., and is included to honor George’s request that he do it.
If George Winston had been the producer of the project it would include information on the slack key tunings Kaapana uses, composers’ credits for the songs, and brief explanations of their cultural significance. Unfortunately, he wasn’t. Grammy voters may not care about that information but it is essential to properly document Hawaiian recordings.