The Lifetime Achievement Awards compiled by JCMarion

Each year as part of the annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (often called the Hawaiian Music Grammy Awards) there is a category for those individuals who are deemed to be a revered and special part of the music scene in the island state. This is the Lifetime Achievement Award given to those whose contributions are an essential part of the culture of Hawaii. Many of the winners of this prestigious recognition are known to those who are familiar with the wonderful sounds of this very special music. Others however, are not as well known to those outside the industry itself, or are too young to have memories of some of the historic performers and architects of this history. This is an attempt to lend a bit of information to this very history that is so worthy of preservation.

The first Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented in 1987. Before that however, in 1978 two special awards were given out that were very much in the spirit of the Lifetimes. The special awards were presented to Alice Namakelua and Mary Kawena Pukui. Together they had collaborated on a collection of songs entitled "Hawaiian Songs For Children" recorded with The Maile Serenaders (Benny Kalama, Sol Kamahele, Eddie Pang, and Jimmy Kaopuiki). Alice had pioneered the teaching of hula, chants, and instrumental music to school children in the public education system of Hawaii. Mary had worked for many years at the Bishop Museum and co-authored the definitive work on the native language "The Hawaiian Dictionary". She had also composed more than 150 songs.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards began with Dorothy Kahananui Gillett. A professor at the University of Hawaii, she worked on the publication of "The Queen's Songbook" featuring the wonderful creativity of Queen Lili'uokalani, Hawaii's last sovereign. Wrote "Comprehensive Musicianship Through Classroom Music" in 1973, wrote for Music Educator;s Journal, and was a director of Hawaiian choral music.

Young O. Kang for many years was the broadcast engineer for the Hawaii Calls radio program. He was also a recording engineer and co-founder of Waikiki Records.

Kahauanu Lake headed his self named trio for many years. He also was an important ukulele stylist and composer. He also became a leading force for the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Alice Pualeialoha Fredlund with her husband Bill founded Bell Records with Young O. Kang as engineer. She performed with the Alice Fredlund Serenaders better known as The Halekulani Girls. She also composed a number of songs.

Bob Lang worked with many top names as a recording engineer, such as Martin Denny, Gabby Pahinui, Hui Hana, and others.

Martha Poepoe Hohu the musical director of Na Leo O Hana, well known choral group. Championed traditional Hawaiian music, and was choir director at Kaumakapili Church. She appeared in the films "Damien" about Father Damien the Belgian priest who made the world aware of leprosy, and the 1954 film "Hell's Half Acre".

Violet "Auntie Lei" Collins, born in Kona, a wonderful singer, dancer, and composer of Hawaiian music. Began in radio in the early nineteen thirties, became a promoter for the Hawaiian Visitors Bureau and Aloha Airlines. Was a program director for the Halekulani Hotel, and later in the 1970s became social director at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. Auntie Lei was curator of the Hulihee Palace and Museum.

Don Mcdiarmid II was best known as president and also producer for Hula Records.

Kimo Wilder McVay promoted his own nightclub Duke K's in the 1960s. He was also promoter for some of the top names in Hawaii such as Don Ho, The Aliis, Carol Kai, and Fabulous Krush.

George Chun, a singer, musician, and talent manager. Was with Liz Damon's Orient Express among others and worked with Paradise Record productions. Also known for a great Sinatra impression.

Myra English was best known for her huge record hit "Drinking Champagne" in the mid 60s. A long time performer in Hawaii, she was often associated with Melveen Leed. Spent time as a tourism promoter for the Visitors Bureau and was an administrative assistant for the state legislature.

Leina'ala Haili, a singer and musician and a master of the style known as ha'i, the female version of falsetto singing which features octave jumping during the vocals. Recorded for Lehua Records and later was a hostess and assistant manager at the Garden Court Restaurant. She was a great influence on Amy Gilliom.

Violet Pahu Liliko'i had a long association with Genoa Keawe. She performed on early Hawaiian television with Lucky Luck, and was in the film "Hawaiian Rainbow". She performed for five years on the liner SS Independence and for eighteen years at the Ilikai Hotel.

Richard Kauhi an innovative pianist who mixed light jazz phrasings into Hawaiian music. Began in the nineteen forties originally with the Kalima Brothers group.

Noelawe Mahoe taught in the 60s the styles of hula and traditional music. Formed a number of choral groups, and in 1971 joined the Hawaiian Music Foundation. She produced television shows for public television in Hawaii and spent a lifetime as a music educator.

Tom Moffett was originally from Michigan, and started in radio in the mid fifties. He eventually became the top promoter of pop music in Hawaii, and also presented Hawaiian performers. He also owned paradise Records.

Nora Keahi Santos had a unique falsetto style of vocals, began her musical career with Bill Lincoln. Later became a member of the Halekulani Girls Glee Club

Linda de la Cruz known as the "Hawaiian Canary" Began in music in the forties in the Halekulani Girls. besides the music, Linda became a well known community activist and strong voice for the Native Hawaiian populace. She also was a trustee in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Raymond Kane a true slack key master was born in Kauai. he first recorded for Tradewind Records in 1961. A decade later the Hawaiian Music Federation had Kane give guest concerts and teach the nuances of slack key guitar. In the late 80s he appeared in the film "Hawaiian Rainbow" and began recording for the Dancing Cat label.

Lydia Ludin was a well known Hawaiian music historian centered in Honolulu's House Of Music.

Bill Kaiwa a regular vocalist on the Hawaii Calls radio show and passionate about traditional music. He also lent his voice to promote Hawaiian tourism. He spent twelve years performing at the Kuhio Hotel, and another six at the Moana. Left music for a time to become a foreman on a Kaua'i cattle ranch.

James Ka'upena Wong an educator primarily focused on the preservation of Hawaiian culture, language, and the arts. He was involved in the study of traditional chants and hulas.

Kealoha Kalama, a falsetto singer, dancer, Hawaiian Studies teacher, and recording artist. He spent twenty five years performing at the Bishop Museum's hula show.

Dick Jensen known as "The Giant" was a long time performer in Waikiki and Las Vegas. Greatly influenced by Tom Jones, he had a local hit record called "Three Cheers For Love". Became an evangelist in later years.

George Na'ope born in Hilo, became the foremost teacher of hula and chants. Co-founder of the Merrie Monarch Festival of hula competition held every year around Easter time in Hilo.

Leila Kiaha is an organist, pianist, and choral arranger. The daughter of Martha Poepoe Hohu, is a board member of the Hawaiian Academy of Performing Arts.

Rene Paulo a pianist who grew up in Waipahu, recorded many LP albums for Liberty Records in the nineteen sixties. Appeared with Alfred Apaka and Don Ho, and also did many shows in Las Vegas.

Gabe Baltazar a native of Hilo, played alto sax with Stan Kenton on 18 albums. Became famous for his version of "Stairway To The Stars", and by the nineties recorded under his own name for a number of labels.


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