A little over a week ago, I posted a blog entry about a book I read (Pacific Performances) with promises that I would update the entry with a review, since I didn’t have the time right then and there to write a full-blown review. You probably thought that I forgot, but I didn’t, and now it’s been updated.
But before you check it out, here’s some music to get you in the mood (or to possibly listen to as you scroll down and read it):
Some people don’t like to read and listen to music at the same time. I get that. Actually, I am one of those people; I tend to focus more intently during the silent moments at the beginning/end of a song, but I listen to music while reading most of the time anyway, if only to drown out the outside noise (which is actually worse for my concentration). But if you do like listening to music while reading, here are some fun choices to accompany your reading of my review:
First, here’s “Aloha ‘Oe (Farewell to Thee),” probably the most iconic Hawaiian song there is, and one of the most misunderstood. It has a fascinating history. Contrary to popular belief, it did not come from Looney Tunes or Lilo & Stitch. It was actually written in 1878 by Queen Lili’uokalani, the last queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii before it was annexed by the United States. Queen Lili’uokalani herself was a fascinating character. She was one of 15 children, and her life was marred with tragedies, including having no children of her own, outliving her appointed successor (her beloved niece, Ka’iulani, who passed away at age 23 after a short illness), and of course, losing her country and spending her twilight years under house arrest. However, she was also a talented musician and songwriter who composed dozens of songs in both English and Hawaiian, as well as running an entire country (take that, Queen Elizabeth). This particular song is based on a hug that the queen witnessed between Colonel James Harbottle Boyd and her sister Princess Likelike, after a horseback tour of Oahu. Unfortunately, I do not think that there are any recordings of the queen herself singing, but this version was performed by the Rose Ensemble.
Next, here’s a selection from contemporary Hawaiian music; as far as I know, Hawaii is the only state to have its own genre of music and even its own category at the Grammy Awards. The most well-known artists in this genre are probably Tia Carrere (the voice of Nani in Lilo & Stitch) and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (known for his Hawaiian rendition of “Over the Rainbow”) but one up-and-coming artist is Rylee Anuheakeʻalaokalokelani Jenkins, aka Anuhea. Her voice is incredible and she writes her own songs, my favorite of which is this one, “Higher Than The Clouds.”
And of course, what blog post on Hawaii and music would be complete without mention Bette Midler? The Divine Miss M was once just a Jewish girl from Honolulu but became famous with the movie Beaches and classic torch songs like “The Rose” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.” She recently came out with a new album, It’s the Girls!, which covers of songs from the 20th century made famous by women, including one of the best songs of all time, “Be My Baby,” by the Ronettes. Here she is on Ellen, still getting her groove on at age 69. You go, Miss M.
So sit back, relax, and take a mini tropical vacation with these music recommendations.