Personnel: Keali`i Reichel (vocals, chant, guitar, `ili`ili, oeoe, pahu); Jamie Lawrence (vocals, guitar, acoustic & electric basses, ka`eke`eke); Moon Kauakahi (vocals, guitar); Uluwehi Guerrero, Lorna Lim, Naomi Stephens (vocals); Alan Villaren (acoustic & electric guitars); Henry Ayau Koa (guitar, ukulele); Maxine-Karen Johnson (viola); Stephen Haines (piano, keyboards); Glen Goto (keyboards); David Inamine (electric bass); John Koko, Joe Mendonca, Jay Molina (bass); Jess Gopen (drums); Fred Krauss (ka`eke`eke); Onuffre Kimo Eleccion (background vocals).
Recorded at Dolphin Sound, Honolulu, Hawaii; Studio 606, Maui, Hawaii. Includes liner notes by Fred Krauss.
After being discovered at a karaoke competition in the mid-'90s, Keali'i Reichel rose quickly to the highest pinnacles of Hawaiian superstardom. His first album, Kawaipunahele, is already a Hawaiian classic. Locals from Honolulu to Kaunakakai own a copy of the album, radio stations play the songs incessantly, and any tourist who sets foot in a music store is likely to walk out with the CD. Reichel goes for the tried and true formula: mellow songs; tropical island stylings; and sweet, piping Hawaiian vocal tones. A lot of these songs are reminiscent of former Top 40 hits from the mainland, but only a few of them are actually covers. A couple of notable cover tunes are "In My Life," a Beatles tune that has a Hawaiian verse added, and "If We Hold on Together," which is performed as a duet with Lorna Lim. Most of the songs concern the same things: romance, friendship, and the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. It's nearly impossible to find this album offensive or intrusive. The lyrics are strictly PG-rated, the music is pretty, and the tone remains even-keeled throughout, and that's why Kawaipunahele has become one of the "must-have" albums for visitors to Hawaii. ~ L. Katz