When Nathan Aweau is in New York, you can probably find him at Sottocasa Pizzeria in Harlem, one of his favorite spots in the City. When he’s not talking story with friends over a delicious slice, he is performing at a venue in the tri-state area, mesmerizing the audience with his sound. “His vibrato-rich tenor and falsetto will make you feel like you are soaring in your seat” was how the Honolulu Museum of Art described his vocals. But it is not just his vocals that will catch your attention, his mastery on the electric bass and acoustic guitar has simply been described by many as extraordinary.
His song-writing talent and creativity also emerged at a young age, when at just 8 years old while playing his ukulele, he started singing a song that he had made up on the spot. “My father looked at me and asked ‘what song is that?’ I just shrugged my shoulders and said ‘I don’t know it was something I made up.’” While this caught his father by surprise, Nathan assumed this was something that everyone could do. Years later, he would go on to write pop, adult contemporary, jazz, and classical songs.
It wasn’t until a challenge from Don Ho in 2001 that Nathan even considered writing a Hawaiian song. “During my 16 year stint as Don Ho’s bassist, he expressed that even though he like[d] my songs, he didn’t think that I could write a Hawaiian song.” At this time, Nathan was in the process of creating his debut solo album and decided to accept the challenge and write a Hawaiian song to include on the album. This song turned out to be E Apo Mai, which won the Na Hoku Hanohano award for 2002 Song of the Year. “Because of this, I turned most of my attention to writing Hawaiian music.”
In addition to the 2002 Song of the Year award, his debut solo album won the award for Traditional Hawaiian Album of the Year and he was awarded the Male Vocalist of the Year honor. Nathan was just getting started. In the years since, he has released five critically-acclaimed solo albums, including one in 2007 on which he played every instrument, and an album as one-half of the band HAPA, which reached #7 on Billboard Magazine's World Music chart. He has also won well over a dozen Na Hoku Hanohano awards, three of which were for Male Vocalist of the Year. Even with all the accolades that he and his albums have received there is still an opportunity to improve on perfection. “I think all my songs are better live than the recording,” he says, as performing his songs live can add an atmosphere of intimacy and authenticity that cannot be captured in recordings. “I'm very anal in my studio and can be too meticulous about the final results. So, sometimes perfection can be cold.”
Warm up with a live performance by Masters of Hawaiian Music: Nathan Aweau, George Kahumoku Jr., and Kawika Kahiapo on Tuesday, February 12 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chatham, New Jersey at 7:00 PM [get your tickets] and on Wednesday, February 13 at the Cutting Room in New York City at 7:30 PM [get your tickets]
To learn more about Nathan Aweau or to see if he's coming to an area near you, visit his website, Facebook page, or subscribe to his Youtube channel.
It is with great sadness that we create this page in tribute of Keo, beloved member of our ʻohana, teacher, and friend. His Hawaiian name Keomailani means “The calling or the answer from above” and was given to him by his teacher, kumu hula Robert Cazimero.
We hope that you will share your personal stories and memories of Keo. Please stay tuned for a New York gathering to celebrate his life.
Mahalo all for all your compassion and aloha. Our dear Keo passed this afternoon. I know this has shaken us all and that we are deeply grieving his loss. Please take care of yourselves during this fragile time. Mahalo Veronique for setting up the photo link https://goo.gl/photos/qPhgSw8TJ4SdVZRY8 I remember Keo teaching us the "Water is Wide." It is heart breaking, but it reminds me of the kindness, the grace, the humor, the rigor, the joy, and tenderness he shared and embodied. My tears seem to have no end…
RE: OFFICIAL STATEMENT: THE PASSING OF WRITER/DIRECTOR/ACTOR/KUMU HULA, KEO WOOLFORD
What a great night! Amazing food, fantastic drinks, and wonderful company. We were so excited to see you all come together to support the Hokule'a's voyage and to celebrate the Polynesian community here in New York City.
Kalepa Baybayan even sent us a special message from the Hokule'a's stop in Cuba:
By Andy Wang
Last night's pau hana was fantastic! Whether you shared a hula, song, drink or laugh, thank you for being there. It reminded me of what makes Halawai so special to me -- our community, which is so full of boundless energy, varied talents, and unconditional aloha. In a city as diverse as New York, it is truly unique.
It was also a night of healing. We gathered to wala'au and have fun for sure, but the strength of one's community is also about supporting and helping one another. I personally felt this in a big way. Thank you for joining me in sending a prayer and song to Uncle Cyril Pahinui who just underwent lung surgery. We hear the surgery went well but a long road to recovery lies ahead. Pua Ali'i 'Ilima O Nuioka performed a heartfelt rendition of the love song Waika dedicated to their kumu hula, Vicky Holt Takamine whose husband Ed passed away unexpectedly last month. Halau Na Pua Mai Ka Lani Nuioka, a relatively new halau branch in New York City, is mourning the untimely passing of their Kumu Kale Pawai. Their graceful movements and smiling faces throughout Aloha Aku, Aloha Mai were an homage to their kumu and a true celebration of life.
Playing music, and particularly playing music for hula, is an experience that I cannot always put into words. There is a relationship and interplay there that binds us. Always a privilege to perform with fellow musicians Claudia Goddard and Chris Davis, but even better when complemented by impromptu hula by Halawai board members Nersa Miller and Kim Davidson. 'Ukulele whiz Kris Kato joined me for kanikapila. (Sorry, we don't practice!) We had a blast dusting the cobwebs off of Po La'i La'i for dancers from Halau Hula O Na Mele Aina O Hawaii.
By the way, you may have noticed Jacqueline Hazen, with her video equipment, who is producing a short documentary featuring Kris and Halawai board member Keoni DeFranco on what it means to practice and teach oli (Hawaiian chant) in New York. A highlight for me was when Kainoa Ebernate got up with 'ukulele in hand to sing Pua Ahihi. His voice was sublime. And I finally got to eat some sushi while enjoying his music. And of course, we wrapped up with everyone singing Hawaii Aloha.
The night was full of special moments. For those of you who missed it, I hope you can make the next one. For those who were there, you nourished my soul and made the pau hana great. Mahalo nui.
What did you think of the new venue? Let us know what you thought about the event in the comments!
UPDATE: The contest has been called off :( http://www.staradvertiser.com/sports/sports-breaking/eddie-is-a-no-go/
The Quiksilver In Memory Of Eddie Aikau is a big wave surf tournament named after one of Hawaii's most legendary figures. The contest is only held when the conditions are absolutely perfect - consistent waves topping 40ft in Waimea Bay - which means that it hasn't been called in six years.
Organizers have decided today's the day!
Check out the Waterfront Alliance's lovely write up on the Hokule'a and its visit to NYC.