Ku‘ulei Mamo – Over the Rainbow CD
2015 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award finalist for International Album!!
Nothing could have been further from my mind than the 2015 [annual] Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards because I didn’t even know that there was an “International Album” category! However, I am absolutely thrilled, honored, and humbled at the same time, to announce that my album has been nominated for this award. The final ballot nominees for all the categories were announced on April 5, 2015. You can download the final nominee list here (pdf) or see the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards site here. The award winners will be announced at the 38th Annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards show on May 23, 2015 (Sat.) at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center in Honolulu.
I want to thank you all for your kind words of congratulations, encouragement, and support. There are six other nominees for the International Album category and most of them are in Japan. No matter who wins, I will forever treasure this honor and experience.
Now to tell you about my album: I almost named my CD Finally Pau (“Finally Finished”) because it took me four-and-a-half years to make this CD! The original photo I was initially intending to use on the CD cover became almost five years old, so I decided to take this photo last fall when the photo studio where I take my photo IDs, held a special sale on photo sessions – LOL!!
There are 15 tracks on my album. They are all instrumentals except for the very brief “Kahuli Aku” part of the medley (Track #6) and the bonus track (Track #15) where I’m singing. Yes, it’s me….yours truly. Many thanks to my guest artists who include Greg Sardinha (who also mixed and mastered my CD), Bryan Tolentino, Glenn Odagawa, and my ‘ukulele students: Hiromi Okuzumi, Megumi Yoshida, and Masayuki Kōno. The main core of this recording project was done with Ken Harakawa in Tokyo, and I am deeply grateful to him for working so diligently with me on this.
The CD is available at the iTunes Store. You can buy the entire album or individual tracks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/over-the-rainbow/id990468838
Also available at CD Baby.
A word about my Logo: Tomoko Masuda and I worked on this together for the logo on the custom-made concert cutaway ‘ukulele she made for me. I designed the KM for “Ku’ulei Mamo” and “Ku’ulei and Mieze” (rhymes with “pizza” – my “Russian Blue” cat) and Tomoko-san added the cat. I wanted a logo to represent Hawaii, the U.S., and Japan so graphic artist, Calvin Yonamine, added the flower behind my cat’s ear and the red dot (to represent Japan’s flag) with the colors of the logo being red, white, and [Russian] blue! I’ve always been an animal lover because of my family and, needless to say, I’m crazy about my cat.
Photos on the back panel
There’s a photo of my ‘ukulele ‘ohana on the back panel of the CD jacket that was taken by photographer Philbert Ono. Meet (from left to right): Yukie Sasaki, Masahiko Watanabe, Aitor Hernandez, Megumi Yoshida, Masayuki Kōno, Hiromi Okuzumi, “yours truly” and Akemi Korcal. We are dressed in our beautiful black and white Hawaiian attire, compliments of Oceans and It: http://www.oceans-and-it.com
The small square photo above that is (from left to right): Bryan Tolentino, “yours truly” and Greg Sardinha.
I really wanted to say, “A very BIG and special mahalo to all those whose names and/or photo(s) appear on my CD and Liner Notes!!”
Where to buy my CD
For now, in Hawai’i, my CD is on sale exclusively at “Good Guys Music & Sound,” (address/map below). It’s between Zippy’s Kapahulu and Starbucks (parking entrance on Mooheau). If you would like to purchase a copy of my CD from them, it might be a good idea to call them first and make sure they have them in stock. It might be even better if you “make a reservation” for one…….no, NOT because I’m a big star and they’ll sell out. It’s exactly the opposite: it’s not a huge store and they don’t have the space to keep a large amount of CDs in stock for a totally unknown artist!
“Good Guys Music” has been so kind to carry my CD and they have very reasonable prices on all the things they carry. I love shopping there, and I usually drop in on them every time I’m home. I’ve also sent a lot of my students to them to purchase an ‘ukulele and they were all extended the same, wonderful courtesy. They’re not only “good guys” – they’re really nice guys, too! It’s not just a plug for them. I sincerely mean it!
Good Guys Music & Sound (Buy, Sell, Trade, Consign, Rent)
619 Kapahulu Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone: (808) 732-4663
Mon-Fri 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. / Sat 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. / Closed on Sundays
On the Big Island, please visit Dovetail Gallery (my cousins’ art gallery) in Holualoa: http://www.dovetailgallery.net
For people in Japan who want a physical CD, please visit Ogo’s Ono-loa Hawaiian Restaurant in Akasaka: http://www.ogohawaii.net/en
Besides the CD, my album is available as a digital download via a Digi-Card (image on left). Digi-Cards are also available at Good Guys Music in Hawaii and at Ogo’s Ono-loa Hawaiian Restaurant in Akasaka.
My CD should be available in the U.S. from Amazon.com, iTunes, CD Baby, and Google Play in the near future.
This is my first CD in a 6-panel Digipak that was done by DISC MAKERS: WWW.DISCMAKERS.COM (no, I was not asked to give them a plug. I just want to highly recommend them because they did such a wonderful job and were so great to do business with.)
**[Again, a very big and special mahalo to ALL those whose names and/or photo(s) appear on my CD and Liner Notes!]**
Here are my Liner Notes to give a little background for each song:
1. Over the Rainbow
[Harold Arlen / E. Y. Harburg]
It took so long to make this CD, I was seriously contemplating the idea of naming it “Finally Pau” (even went as far as translating it completely into Hawaiian: “Ua Pau” – which means “Finally Finished.”) Then it just suddenly came to my mind: Michael’s ashes were scattered off of Waikiki and at the top of Diamond Head (thus the cover shot, which is a photo I took right after Michael’s ashes were scattered) and “Over the Rainbow” was the last song I arranged and played for him before he passed away. Needless to say, itʻs a very, very special song to me.
2. Stompin’ at the Savoy
This ʻukulele arrangement was done for my “haole sister,” Sue Campbell Hawkins, who constantly played this on the piano when she lived in Hawai‘i. Her father, Howard Campbell (my “haole dad,” of course!) is pictured with me in the montage, as I was teaching him how to play the ʻukulele.
When my first class of ‘ukulele students reached their 10th year of studying the ‘ukulele with me, we took a trip to Hawaii together to celebrate our “10th Anniversary.” Each time I went to their hotel to pick them up, I would get there early to allow some time to work on the arrangement of this song while sitting in the van. Mom sat in the very back row of seats, playing games on her iPod Touch and Yukie was recording everything I was doing and undoing, adding and revising! (Ken Harakawa tastefully accompanied me on this and all other songs with guitar and/or bass, except for “Ku’ulei ‘Awapuhi.)
[Emily Kekahaloa Namau’u Taylor]
My ‘ukulele student and dear friend, Aitor Hernandez, showed me an ‘ukulele tablature arrangement of this song and I promised him that I would make another arrangement of this beautiful song….and that I would teach it to him. Aitor can now play this as an ‘ukulele solo and he is also an incredibly talented accordion player.
What an honor it was to have Greg Sardinha accompany me on guitar and bass and Bryan Tolentino “Bryanize” my simple, humble arrangement with his tasteful “little sprinkles of ‘ukulele touches” here and there. Mahalo, gentlemen!
4. Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue
[Ray Henderson / Sam M. Lewis & Joseph W. Young]
This is one of the many songs my father taught me how to play on the ʻukulele when I was just a child. Dad was a phenomenal player and taught me how to play the ʻukulele as soon as I could hold it. I must have been around 3 or 4 years old. Funny…..whenever Dad asked me to get my ʻukulele, I always eagerly ran to get it and I was always so attentive to his teachings. Not once did I ever dread practicing or feel an obligation to practice. It was something I enjoyed so much, it was simply a part of my life. My time learning the ʻukulele from my father was a treasured experience and has become a treasured memory.
5. The Girl From Ipanema
[Antonio Carlos Jobim]
I thought it would be nice to add a little bossa nova tune and this truly is one of my favorites to play.
6. Pūpū Hinuhinu / Kahuli Aku
[Pūpu Hinuhinu: composition, lyrics, music by Helen Desha Beamer / Kahuli Aku: N. B. Emerson with traditional mele and lyrics translated by Helen Desha Beamer.]
“Pūpū Hinuhinu” was one of the first songs I arranged for the ‘ukulele and it has always gone nicely with “Kahuli Aku.” I did all the ‘ukulele arrangements but I give Greg all the credit for putting this beautiful medley together!
7. Winchester Cathedral
Mary Lou Chai is responsible for this one. One day she excitedly told me that this song came to her in a dream. She told me that I just had to make an ‘ukulele arrangement for it. To my surprise, the song really did match the ‘ukulele!
8. Akaka Falls
[Helen Lindsey Parker]
Yoshiko Mitsuishi came to ‘ukulele class one day, all excited about a beautiful song she had heard and wanted to learn. She didn’t even know the name of the song and when I asked her how it went, I was amazed that she was able to play a bit of the melody on the ‘ukulele. It was enough to recognize that it was obviously “Akaka Falls.” She can play it now as a solo ‘ukulele piece along with her classmates, Sumi Oda and Kunio Oda, who started learning the ‘ukulele from scratch.
9. Dream a Little Dream of Me
[Fabian Andre / Wilbur Schwandt]
Masumi Watanabe, a singer, loves to sing this song and we performed it together at our annual “Hawaiian Christmas Dinner Party” a couple of years ago. After accompanying her, I thought it would also make a nice solo ‘ukulele.
10. Yellow Bird
[Michel Mauleart Monton]
This is one of my favorite “Arthur Lyman” songs. The music of Arthur Lyman is just amazing and my drum [set] teacher, Harold Chang, was his drummer. One day (years ago) at Territorial Tavern in downtown, Honolulu, Arthur Lyman was playing and he asked me to sit in with him on the drums. I couldn’t believe that he announced “Yellow Bird” as the song he was going to play! I used my mallets and played ever so “lightly and carefully” so I wouldnʻt be in his way. It was one of the two times that I had “chicken skin” when I was actually performing!
11. Sophisticated Hula
While I have my father’s style, I also have my own style and my “a cappella pieces” really reflect this. I just wanted to make a lively arrangement of this song. (I like chord inversions, too, so they are not “wrong chords” – just Dm and Am inversions that I wanted to use!)
12. I Left My Heart in San Francisco
[George Cory / Douglass Cross]
Sometimes I don’t realize just how beautiful a song is until I do an arrangement of it on the ‘ukulele. “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “My Favorite Things” are perfect examples of that, and they were ‘ukulele arrangement requests from my student, Masako Kawamura. She absolutely loves these two songs and I think she has great taste. “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” was an “experiment” to see how it would sound with “full orchestration” behind the ‘ukulele.
13. My Favorite Things
My Favorite Things” was performed on my Craft Musica ‘ukulele. When I first saw this ‘ukulele at a music store, it caught my eye and I was so intrigued by its shape and size. When I played it, I was so deeply impressed by the sound that resonated from it! When I first started on the arrangement of this song, I wondered what key I would do it in. I wanted the “ringing of bells” depicted right in the beginning and I found that a D sus4 with an open G and an open A (0 2 3 0) gave me that effect. Craft Musica instruments are the epitome of Japanese fine woodwork-craftsmanship. As a luthier in Japan, Takayama-san is second to none. http://www.craftmusica.com
14. He Punahele Nō ‘Oe
It was the year 2000 that I started teaching the ‘ukulele in Japan and it was my idea to have my three original students record with me on my first CD because…….after fourteen years, they are still with me! They knew Michael very well and they are truly my ‘ukulele ‘ohana class. They are so shy and humble, but I am so proud of them: Hiromi Okuzumi, Megumi Yoshida, and Masayuki Kōno on ‘ukulele.
Yukie Sasaki, is playing on her bass stick bass guitar, that was made by KonaBob on the Big Island. I tease Yukie a lot and gave her the nickname “IZn’t” but she does a fine job for someone who was thrown in the water and knew it was either “sink or swim.” When I happened to come across that KonaBob StickBass bass guitar hanging on the wall of Sam Rosen’s little ‘Ukulele Gallery in Holualoa (Big Island), and found out that the 3-stringed bass could be tuned to a root, bass, and third triad, I immediately “drafted” Yukie as my bass player.
I also played a beautifully crafted guitar by luthier Yasuo Takayama of Craft Musica on this song. His amazing woodcraft skills are second to none.
15. The Other Side of the Sun
[Janis Ian / Albert Hammond]
This was recorded at a small recording studio in Chicago by Glenn Odagawa, who used to be the soundman for “Olomana” and the “Brothers Cazimero” in Hawai‘i. He is currently the sound man for the O’Jays and works out of Chicago. Byron Yasui kindly did the beautiful string arrangement for it. Yes, itʻs me on vocals. I did all the vocal tracks on this CD, but I really don’t profess to be a singer.
CD Jacket Montage
Let me explain the photos on the montage:
Clockwise, starting from the upper left hand corner is Michael Park, my husband of 20 years, who passed away in 2004. There is so much to say about Michael, I could write a book. Honestly – no exaggeration. Michael was truly an earth angel.
Upper right hand corner: my father. Dad had to run away from home to pursue his interests in music because his mother would break every instrument he brought home. My grandmother did not regard being a musician as a “proper choice of career” to pursue and she did her best to discourage him from his interests in music. Dad was an electrician by trade and worked at Pearl Harbor until he retired, but he always kept his love and interest in music alive. In spite of Grandma’s strong opposition, he found an excellent teacher to study privately with (at Punahou) and he mastered music theory inside and out. Consequently, he would take very difficult pieces and arrange them for the ‘ukulele. He also used to study Tenor Banjo with Richard Choy who was once known as “The Banjo King.” Dad had a very unique style and he was an absolutely phenomenal player. It is so unfortunate that we don’t have any recordings of his playing. Dad once entered an amateur contest and was kicked out because they claimed he was a professional player. He was so hurt, he never cared to really play in public after that incident. However, he was just fine with playing for his own enjoyment. I grew up listening to ‘ukulele music from morning to night sometimes!
I must say that my Dad was my “pal” when I was growing up. Whenever he would sit down with me and say, “Go get your ‘ukulele,” I always ran to get it with great joy, knowing that he was going to review something with me or teach me something new. I don’t even remember practicing because it was so much a part of my life! Not once did I ever dread picking up the ‘ukulele and feeling like, “Oh no…..I HAVE to practice…!!!” For me, it was so enjoyable and really, just an every day/normal thing to do. I simply and “naturally” enjoyed it. Learning from Dad was my special time with him and I remember how I would be mesmerized by the way his fingers moved on just four strings but created such a big sound. It was the epitome of “solo ‘ukulele playing” because he truly didn’t need any other instrument to accompany him. No matter how many times he played, I was always so impressed. I had such great respect for his knowledge and virtuosity. Unfortunately, Dad was too humble to even think of making any kind of recording. By coincidence, on the morning of the day Dad passed away, I promised that I would make a CD. It took all of four-and-a half years to fulfill that promise, but I’m so glad I stuck with it and kept my promise!
Lower left hand corner: Yukie and I were performing at a “Hawaiian/Aloha Festival” in Yokohama, Japan.
Center photo, right side: according to what’s written on the back of this photo, I was about four years old. Believe it or not, I remember that this photo was taken when our hālau performed at Tripler Hospital in Honolulu. I studied hula with my godmother, Aunty Kuʻulei, and her mother, Mama Bishop, when I was a child.
Mahalo for your kind support and I hope you enjoy my CD!!