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Kulaiwi Album Notes

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Mana'o, Kaona, Liner Notes
Kulaiwi, My Beloved Home

After a hula class late July this summer, I sat in a park and talked with my dear friend and colleague, Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa'i. It was a warm Saturday afternoon in Windsor, California, and we were ready to catch up on album updates, hula, music and life! She has named each of my albums, and I asked if the name for this' one had come to her yet. She held on to her Mary Kawena Pukui Dictionary and answered "Kulaiwi."
I asked her what that word meant. She said, "kula is land and iwi means bones."  I thought to myself and expressed a little smile and said, "Kumu Shawna, we are going deep with the bones."  "Yes, we are because that is who you are Faith; it is your heritage from Samoa to Hawaii, from the beginning of your ancestors and great lineage."I expressed my gratitude, and the more I repeated the name "Kulaiwi"  to myself, the better it sounded as a good fit for my next journey in Hawaiian music.  I knew back in 2009 after my second album, Papaku, Bring It Home, that I wanted a full band sound for my next CD project and set out to accomplish just that. With my new release Kulaiwi, My Beloved Homeland, I have three or more instrumentations and full vocal harmonies along with unique musical arrangements. Included below are the names of each song along with composers, musicians, and instruments. I have also given some insight as to why I chose these songs both collectively and individually, hoping that the fans and new listeners might enjoy and understand what makes this new album special to me.

Ka Ho'opa'i O Ka Nalo 'Eu 'Eu
Music and lyrics by Johnny Lum Ho
Vocals, 8 string ukelele, 8 String Tahitian ukelele—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Bass—Tua Poueu
I love this song by Kumu Hula Johnny Lum Ho about the pesty fly. If you have lived in Hawaii, not a day goes by without trying to swat a fly down. I also love the beat of this mele, the words, and going crazy to get that fly!               

Maui Medley
Song Arrangement and Hula Choreography by Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa'i
Music and lyrics by Kahakuloa Wahine, Kahoewaa; Kipahulu-Carl Hoku Rasmussen
Vocals, 8 string ukelele—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Steel lap guitar—Sean Allen
Bass—Tua Poueu
On my first album, Kukahi, Kumu Shawna Alapa'i arranged and choreographed a Kauai hula medley with songs from the island of Kauai. For my second album, Papaku Bring It Home, Kumu Shawna created a Hilo hula medley with meles from the town of Hilo. Kulaiwi, My Beloved Homeland, features Kumu Shawna's Maui Medley, honoring her homeland, the beauty of Kahakuloa, and the fragrant lehua flowers. This is a beautiful mele of medley and hula as well, all performed by Halau Na Pua O Ka La'akea. Incidentally, the Kauai and Hilo Medleys are the top requested medleys for online radio and it's choreography is performed regularly by Halau Na Pua O Ka La'akea and other mainland halaus.

Aina O Lana'i
Music and lyrics by Val Kepelino
Vocals, 8 string ukelele—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Steel lap guitar—Sean Allen
Bass—Tua Poueu
I love Lana'i, the pineapple island. The dusty red dirt our pineapple is planted in reminds me of my homeland (north shore of Oahu). The kaunaoa flower has it's own beauty, as compared to the lehua flower from the big island.

Pauoa Liko Ka Lehua
Music and lyrics by Emma Bush, Sam Kanahele, Wai O Ke Ani ani—Traditional
Vocals, 8 string ukelele—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Steel lap guitar—Sean Allen
Bass—Tua Poueu
Percussion, congas—Bobby Santos
Ipu heke—Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa'i
This is a favorite mele since Kahuku High School days, working at the Polynesian Cultural Center and hearing the employees sing this song over and over! A great childhood memory, I must say.

Vaihiria
Music and lyrics by Yves Roche, John Gabilou
Vocals, 8 string ukelele, 8 string Tahitian Ukelele—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic Guitar—Tadd Aiona
Bass—Tua Poueu
A beautiful song from the South Pacific Isles of Tahiti, about a woman named Vaihiria and her quest for love. I know a Vaihiria in our halau here in Marin, who is from Tahiti and was raised here in northern California. She is one of the most graceful 'Olapa dancers I know, Ms. Maranda Vaihiria Itchener Thompson.

Beauty Hula
Music and lyrics by John K. Alameida, John Noble, LaTouche
Arrangement and hula choreography—Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa'i
Vocals, 8 string ukelele—Faith Ako
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Steel lap guitar—Sean Allen
Bass—Tua Poueu
Cello—George Chavez
Percussion, congas—Bobby Santos
Ipu heke—Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa'i
This mele is about the misty rain on the island of Oahu in Manoa valley. The flower miulana is especially fragrant at night and has a sweet perfume smell. Also, this mele was performed as a hula by Halau Na Pua O Ka La'akea, a long time ago and used as an auana number for our shows. I decided to switch the tempo up a bit, add a little cello and percussion here and there along with the ipu heke. After completing the song in recording, I loved it. It didn't sound like the auana mele I was used to, but change is always good, right!

Ta Elena I Petesa
Music and lyrics by Faanu Tuanaitau
Vocals, piano, strings—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Electric guitar—Tua Poueu
Bass—Tua Poueu
Cello—George Chavez
I heard this song about eight years ago, by Pacific Soul, a five member female group from Samoa and New Zealand. Their harmonies were flawless. This song talks about a special waterfall in Samoa. When visitors go to this pool, they are asking to be cured of sickness. It is said once they emerge from the healing water, they are free from illness due to their faith and belief. Because #7 is my lucky number, the seventh song of each of my albums is of Samoa and dedicated to my grandparents and parents. 

Puamana
Music and lyrics by Charles Kekua Farden, Irmgard Aluli
Vocals, 8 string ukelele—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Steel lap guitar—Sean Allen
Bass—Tua Poueu
Another beautiful arrangement and hula choreographed by Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa'i. An old favorite for the kupunas too!

Poliahu|
Music and lyrics by Kumu Hula Frank Hewitt
Vocals, 8 string ukelele, strings—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Bass—Tua Poueu
'ili 'ili (small black pebble rocks)—Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa'i
My daughter Felila Ku'upualeionaona, is my favorite 'Olapa dancer. This is her most favored hula dance, as well as one of her favorite meles that I perform.
Choreographed in the halau by Felila's 'Uniki sister, 'Olapa-Ho'opa'a, Maranda Vaihiria Itchener Thompson.

Huahine
Traditional Tahiti
Vocals, 8 string ukelele, 8 string Tahitian ukelele—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Bass—Tua Poueu
Another Tahitian mele, that talks about a season of light for fishing, night or day. Try to catch the fin tail as he jumps, or dives back in the ocean. This catchy South Pacific upbeat tune, is dedicated to Kumu Hula Linda Kawahine Itchener Low.

Halau Na Pua O Ka La'akea
Original music and lyrics by Faith Ako
Hawaiian translation by Marvin Liko Puha
Vocals, 8 string ukelele—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Bass—Tua Poueu

I wrote this He Mele Inoa, for "Halau Na Pua O Ka La'akea" about six years ago when I came out with my first album, Kukahi. This special group of women, and my good friend/Producer, Tarvin Makia of Kihei, encouraged me to make an album and to go out and play Hawaiian music, no scared! As my daughter belonged to the halau, I always got support from the ladies. I traveled with them all over California. The many good and trying times we shared made us stronger as a halau and me as a individual. This song talks about where the halau meets in Marin Valley, in the uplands my cherished lei, sparkling with blossoms of sacred light, Alohilohi a'e i na pua o ka la'akea. E ku'ulei papahi mai a pilipoli, my greatly beloved lei papahi, come close to my heart. For you this song, my cherished lei, Nou keia mele o'u lei ho'oheno he nohea maoli no. I am so honored to perform this on their behalf with aloha, and Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa'i, a big mahalo from me~
Biggest hug ever to: Master Kumu of 'Olelo/Chant, Mr. Marvin Liko Puha for hawaiian translation. Mahalo brother!

My Hawai'i
Original music and lyrics by Keenan Kanahele
Vocal, strings, 8 string ukelele—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Acoustic Applause ukelele—Sean Allen
Bass—Tua Poueu
Percussion—Bobby Santos
My nephew, a very gifted and talented musician, wrote this island magic song a few years ago. This song talks about being a transplant here on the mainland. Not a day goes by that we all don't think about Hawaii and the many sentiments that remind us of back home. I loved recording his song and hearing this result makes me very happy.

Kawahine O Ka Po
Original music and lyrics by Kumu Hula Mark Ho'omalu
Vocals, strings,piano—Faith Ako
Slack key guitar—Jim Cramer
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Bass—Tua Poueu
Ten years ago, at Kumu Mark's first Ho'ike at Hayward Civic Auditorium, I performed this mele for his auana segment of Beyond The Horizon, 'Po, show. I always remembered this particular tune with Kumu Mark's catchy and creative chords, magical lyrics. I finally had the courage this summer to ask Kumu Mark if I could record his mele. He said no problem, go for it and what a treat! Lipo, is the woman of the night who dances to the moon, yet her heart still resides in loneliness. It is a beautiful mele, which surely will get some recognition, mahalo Kumu Mark Ho'omalu~you are the ONE, the people's vote!

Blue Bayou
Music and lyrics by Roy Orbison, Joe Melson
Hawaiian translation by Marvin Liko Puha
Vocals, 8 string ukelele—Faith Ako
Acoustic guitar—Tadd Aiona
Acoustic guitar—Sean Allen
Bass—Tua Poueu
Percussion—Bobby Santos
Cello—George Chavez


Linda Ronstadt, one of my personal favorites from the 70's era, sang this song and I always thought someday I would record it. I had my dear friend, Marvin Liko Puha translate the hui/chorus into Hawaiian, and that is how I sang the song. The verses were done in English and the chorus in Hawaiian. Just so "ono," please enjoy this song!

Song Arrangements
Maui Medley, Puamana, Beauty Hula—song arrangements and hula choreography by Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa'i
Poliahu—song arrangement and hula choreography by Maranda Vaihiria Itchener Thompson

Album Production
Recorded by Prairie Sun Recording Studio in Cotati, California

Mahalo Nui Loa
I thoroughly enjoyed learning the ropes of producing, arranging, and putting my heart on my sleeve for this album. To the musicians who helped create the magic, I thank them all. The men were so patient and giving of their time to allow the aloha to come through the special musical pieces of this album.

Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa'i and Master Kumu 'Olelo/Chant, Marvin Liko Puha for the sweet opportunities of counsel, advice, history on 'olelo, stories, mele, mana'o, mahalo nui loa~

Ed Aiona, the dedicated photographer with a passion that shows clear through my photos, mahalo brother! My last two album cover photos, say speechless, classic, simple and elegance and nothing more that absolute "ALOHA". I appreciate your eyes that capture it all. #nokaoi #dabest

Creekmore-Behasa, the creative duo team of my albums/music presentations, press/website materials, and so much more, I aloha you tenfold!

Kurtis Ako, my brother who keeps me grounded, adds a touch of finesse to all that I do and see, Kamehameha School Alumni, you are da bessest!

Bobby and Lori Santos for Colortone Digital and it's fine visual art forms, to make everything pretty on my end, mahalo Bobby and Lori.

Kulaiwi, My Beloved Homeland, is a picture perfect sense of my growth and involvement in my music for the last decade here in the Bay Area, and the West Coast. I can only hope to achieve more each time in the future and keep the passion behind the music moving forward. I am so grateful to my ohana for the support and to the fans especially, who keep our traditional music alive.

Nou kēia pā sēdē e nanea mai, noʻu ka hauʻoli i ka hoʻopaʻa iho. Mahalo i ke kākoʻo maila!
(Hawaiian Translation, Marvin Liko Puha)

My sincere hope is that you will experience as much joy and pleasure listening as I did when recording this album. Mahalo for your support! It is an honor and privilege to share and perpetuate the Hawaiian music that I love so dearly.
(English Translation)

Respectfully,
Faith Ako


 

 

 

 

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