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Gregg Porter's Music Reviews


April 2008


An Interview with Raiatea Helm

One of the brightest stars of the new generation of Hawaiian music performers, Raiatea Helm, brings her “Hawaiian Blossom” tour to the West Coast this month, with a Seattle show on Saturday, April 12, at Town Hall. (The show will be emceed by Moloka`i's own Manono McMillan, from the “ Hawai`i Radio Connection.”) Raiatea was kind enough to take a few moments out of her time preparing for the tour to answer a few questions for us:

What music touches you the most and why?

Raiatea Helm

I've always listened to music growing up as a child in Moloka`i.  We listened to music from all genres; oldies, jazz, rock and roll, rhythm and blues. You name it, we sang it!  So, growing up, I listened to all kinds of music. As you know, my Uncle George ("Jarret Helm") is an icon of the Hawaiian music industry. He was charismatic and a self-taught performer.  I never got to know him personally because I was born six years after his passing. But he lives on through his music and those who loved him.  His music touches me the most because it's so pure and yet so powerful.  Sometimes I cry because I never got to meet him but his voice remains precious.

With two Grammy nominations on your resume, have you any thoughts about the voting process and how it could be improved or changed?

The voting membership of the recording industry is learning more and more each year about the Hawaiian music category.  Education takes time and we have to be patient. At the same time, I hope we are able to promote more Hawaiian vocalists on the West Coast to expose mainland audiences to the beauty of our Hawaiian language.  That should be our focus in the immediate future; to promote Hawaiian-language recordings to the Grammy-voting membership.

What will you be sharing with your audiences on this tour?

I am performing an array of songs from the golden era of Hawaiian songwriting as well as modern classics. Composers like Lena Machado and Helen Desha Beamer composed Hawaiian standards that I love to sing. I have a dress designer who has created beautiful gowns for me that will compliment the music. I think the audience will enjoy a wonderful visual as well as musical experience. I also enjoy talking with the audience to explain the songs; who composed them, for whom it was written, and most importantly, the hidden meaning behind the words.  I hope the audience feels like they are a part of the performance and feel the joy I have when I sing such lovely songs.

(Mahalo to tour manager Guy Sibilla for his logistical assistance with this interview.)

~ ~ ~ ALSO COMING UP ~ ~ ~

May 2) Stephen Inglis (slack key guitar) & Shawn Moseley (piano) celebrate their new CD release with special guest guitarist Cindy Combs, Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave. at 7:30 pm, www.townhallseattle.org

May 16) Mākaha Sons with special guest Hōkū Zuttermeister, Green River Community College in Auburn at 7:30 pm, 253-833-9111 Ext. 2400

May 23-26) Northwest Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center; the annual hula show will again take place on Sunday (May 25), as will the `ukulele showcase; Brother Noland will also be back this year, www.nwfolklife.org

July 5) Slack key guitarist John Keawe, Admiral Theatre in West Seattle, 206-938-0360


Slack Key Ladies

Photo by Momi

Hawai`i Radio Connection hosts Moodette Ka`apana and Gregg Porter share a moment with the Slack Key Ladies after an on-air interview between their Northwest concerts. The popular radio show airs every Saturday 12-2 PM on KBCS 91.3 FM. (Left to right): Cindy Combs, Moodette, Gregg, Owana Salazar and Brittni Paiva.

Read Gregg's March 2008 interview with the Slack Key Ladies

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