Amy Hanaiali'i
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Amy Hanaiali'i

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
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The best kept secret in music


"Island Mele: Amy’s ‘Granddaughter’ Honors Family"

Sep. 3, 2012

‘My Father’s Granddaughter’
Amy Hanaiali‘i (UA)

In the 17 years since the release of her debut album, “Native Child,” in 1995, Amy Hanaiali‘i Gilliom has proven herself one of the most versatile island singers of her generation. Recording at various times as Amy Gilliom, Amy, Amy Hanaiali‘i Gilliom, and in recent years primarily as Amy Hanaiali‘i, she has displayed her command of traditional Hawaiian falsetto, big band jazz and mainstream pop. In a recent theme album for celebrity marine artist Wyland she showed that she is also a credible blues singer.

The breadth of her repertoire during the past decade may surprise those who think of her primarily as a Hawaiian falsetto singer and imagine her paying her dues years ago singing in the rain at neighbor island carnivals or backyard fundraisers. The truth is that she had an MFA degree in musical theater, and extensive formal training, years prior to the release of her first Hawaiian falsetto album, “Hawaiian Tradition,” in 1997. It’s the training and artistic vision she acquired while building that larger resume that results in this album being such a beautiful calling card. Hanaiali‘i can rock and belt and work the ha‘i (break) between her lower and upper vocal registers when singing Hawaiian falsetto, but this album shows how compelling she can be when singing soft and delicate with only one or two acoustic instruments behind her. She is a remarkable interpreter of what is described as “the Great American Songbook” — pop songs written before the advent of the modern Rock Era in 1955. She includes several of those pop standards here.

Hanaiali‘i reveals in the liner notes that the album is about family. It marks the death of her father, Lloyd Gilliom, and celebrates her love for her daughter, Madeline Austin, who is pictured on the cover and elsewhere in the album art. Mother and daughter share writing and performing credits for “Hihimanu,” a gentle lullaby that is a soothing memento of love shared between parent and child. A second song, “Sleep Little Baby,” which Hanaiali‘i sings acappella, also has direct family connections; she writes that it was written as a lullaby for her father by his step-father, Hawaiian musician Sam Koki.

Two Hawaiian songs — performed with a solo piano as primary accompaniment — come from her productive musical partnership with Willie K. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “When You Wish Upon A Star,” pop classics both, are two more examples of how vocal talent can be showcased perfectly with simple yet elegant arrangements.

In responding to the emotions she’s experiencing at this point in her life, Amy Hanaiali’i has created an album that will bring comfort to countless others. She invites you to share these songs with your children as she has shared them with Madeline.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at - Honolulu Pulse powered by the Honolulu Adviser

"Hawaiian Holiday"

Jeanne Cooper
Published 4:00 am, Sunday, December 10, 2006

"Royalty" is not a word used lightly in Hawaii, the only state in the union with real palaces, not to mention a small but passionate monarchist movement.

But if rock 'n' roll has a king and pop has a prince (or Prince), it should be no surprise that Hawaiian music has its own noble lines. Staking the best claim to the title of "the people's princess": singer-songwriter Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom, who performs a Christmas concert Monday at the Castro Theatre.

Not yet 40, Gilliom is widely venerated in Hawaii, where her traditional-style, falsetto-inflected music, mostly sung in Hawaiian, has won numerous awards since her first album, 1995's "Native Child." On the mainland, island transplants and returning tourists flock to see her at venues such as Stern Grove and the Palace of Fine Arts; her live album with longtime collaborator Willie K, which includes some of those San Francisco performances, was one of the first nominees in the new Grammy category of best Hawaiian album, introduced at the 2005 awards.

Royalty is even part of her name: Loosely translated, hanai means adopted, ali'i means royal.

Although she's actually very down to earth in person, Gilliom wouldn't mind expanding her musical dominion a little further. "Generation Hawaii," her latest album under consideration for a Grammy nomination, was produced by Michael Ruff, who has worked with Chaka Khan.It contains her usual stirringly lush arrangements of original and classic Hawaiian songs, but also shows off her jazz heritage (the seductive "In Hilo Town") and includes a bonus track ("Jewel") previewing an all-English album currently in the works.

"I need to open up the market a little bit, open up people's minds," Gilliom says, calling from a Honolulu hotel in between concerts and caring for her infant daughter, Madeline. "Celine sings in English now, but her past albums were all in French."

For the new album, due in October, Gilliom is working with Allen Sviridoff, producer of the "Syriana" soundtrack and onetime manager of Rosemary Clooney. They joined forces after Gilliom recorded "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" for his "Return to Romance" CD, released in October. Given the romanticism of much Hawaiian music, and Gilliom's full-bodied yet controlled vocals (think Patsy Cline, or Judy Collins if she could yodel), it sounds like a good fit. But it doesn't mean she's leaving all thoughts of Hawaii behind.

"Jewel," written by Ruff, may feature an anthem-style adult-contemporary arrangement, but it "talks about our Hawaiian people being like a jewel on the sand, polished by the wind and sea," Gilliom says, "so the rest of the world can see where I'm coming from as a Hawaiian woman and an entertainer."

The new album will have "a hint of steel guitar, a hint of ukulele and a lot more crossover" -- and that's not a dirty word in any language she speaks.

"I'm very much like my grandmother," Gilliom says, referring to the late Jennie Napua Woodd, choreographer of "Pagan Love Song" and other Hollywood films set in Hawaii and the tropics in the '30s and '40s. "She was a Molokai girl and half-Hawaiian who stayed true to her roots but also did crossover back then. She was one of the pioneers who did that, and that's one reason why Hawaiian entertainers are loved all over the world."

Woodd, who died at age 90 in 2003, bequeathed her granddaughter another musical legacy by marrying one of Tommy Dorsey's musicians, who became Gilliom's grandfather. Personally passionate about jazz and R&B, Gilliom sang with an African American choir in Southern California when she was studying musical theater in San Diego after high school and dating Jamie Foxx, then a voice major. - SF Gate of the San Francisco Chonicle

"Na Hoku Hou! Award Winners come together at the MACC for a celebratory concert"

July 4, 2013

Every May, the island music scene is abuzz with the excitement of the annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards that are presented by the Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts (HARA) on O'ahu. Fly to Honolulu around the third weekend in May and you are likely to see the bright lights of island music trekking over to garner another award, or the rising stars making the pilgrimage in the hopes of winning their first one. It's like the Grammys: You can see lots of great performers and a showcase of performances all in one grand evening!

But not all of us can fly over for the festivities. That's where the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (The MACC) steps in to help bring the best of the islands (and the world) to Maui. As soon as the awards are announced, MACC programmers intercede for the Maui audience and try to book as many of the award-winners as can make for it for one beautiful concert in one beautiful venue.

This year, the third annual Na Hoku Hou! concerts at The MACC will take place on Saturday, July 13. The lineup is stellar, with both familiar favorites and brand new names.

- See more at: - Maui Weekly

"Mauians recipients of Na Hoku honors"

May 27, 2013
By CHRIS SUGIDONO - Staff Writer ( ,

Maui native Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom took home two awards at Saturday night's 2013 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Hailed as Hawaii's top-selling female singer of all time, she was named Female Vocalist of the Year and her album "My Father's Granddaughter" was named Contemporary Album of the Year.

"You know, I'm a huge supporter for Hawaii music and I was playing at the Smithsonian during the awards so i couldn't be there," she said in a phone interview Sunday from Washington, D.C. "So it was kind of a bittersweet thing for me, but of course I'm honored to receive this from my fellow entertainers."

Other Mauians receiving awards included Kamakakehau Fernandez, who won Extended Play of the Year for his album "Wahi Mahalo," and Kenneth Martinez Burgmaier, who won Compilation Album of the Year for his joint-production of the CD "Lana'i Slack Key Festival: Live Kiho'alu At Ko'ele."

Gilliom has now won 21 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, known as the Hawaiian equivalent of the Grammy Awards, including five for Female Vocalist of the Year.

Released in 2012, her award-winning album was dedicated to her father, Lloyd Gilliom, who "helped to shape her outlook on life."

"In the middle of recording this production I suffered the loss of my father," she said. "I am where I am in my career because of the hard work of my father. The songs on this album brings me back to lullabies sung by my father and his mother, Jennie Napua Woodd.

"A year has passed and I still miss him and his guidance. These awards are dedicated to my father and to all who have come before me and (on) whose shoulders I stand."

Makawao resident Burg-maier led a team of producers including Dave Lower of Lahaina, Kevin Brown of Waiehu and Benny Uyetake of Haiku on their way to their award.

The CD was a live recording of various artists playing at a free slack key festival at the Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele, last year.

"I'll tell you what, the competition we were going up against . . . they were some pretty well-known and respected producers," Burgmaier said in a phone interview Sunday. "There were five of us in there, and we weren't sure if we were going to win. But when we went to our table to sit down, lo and behold they called our name.

"It was a very happy and exciting feeling, and we were, like, wow. . . . I'm so happy for all of the people in Lanai because this is the first time Lanai has won an award in the 36 years they've had these awards."

The idea for the CD came to the group on the ferry ride to Lanai for the festival, he said. Burgmaier had done a festival at the hotel before and gave a DVD to the artists who would be playing at the festival.

"The were all blown away at how clean the sound was," he said. "We were talking and (artist) Jon Keawe turns to me and said maybe we should do a live CD. It all came together after that in 60 days . . . all because of a little ferry ride from Lahaina to Lanai. It's funny how things can happen."

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at
© Copyright 2013 The Maui News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. - The Maui News


Native Child; 1995
Hawaiian Tradition; 1997(Na Hoku Hanohano* Winner)
Hanaialii; 1998 (Na Hoku Hanohano Winner)
Nostalgia; 1999 (Na Hoku Hanohano Winner)
Pu'uhonua; 2001(Na Hoku Hanohano Winner)
Amy and Willie Live; 2003
Generation Hawaii; 2006 (Grammy Nominee & Na Hoku Hanohano Winner)
A Hawaii Christmas; 2007 (Grammy Nominee & Na Hoku Hanohano Winner)
Aumakua; 2008 (Grammy Nominee & Na Hoku Hanohano Winner)
Amy Hanaialii Friends and Family; 2009 (Grammy Nominee)
Amy Hanaialii and the Slack Key Masters of Hawaii; (2011 (Grammy Nominee)
My Fathers Granddaughter; 2012 (Na Hoku Hanohano winner)

* The Na Hoku Hanohano Awards are the premier music awards in Hawaii, and are the Hawaiian equivalent of the Grammy Awards. The award winners are currently selected by the non-profit Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts, which was founded in 1982. The awards are presented each May, and the ceremony is televised.



Winning the prestigious title of 2013 Female Vocalist of the Year Na Hoku Hanohano award, performing at the Hawaii State Presidential Inaugural Gala, headlining Blue Note & Cotton Club Japan, the Smithsonian Native American Museum, Maui Arts & Cultural Center and recording two albums, its been a hot Hawaiian year Amy Hanaialii.

With 12 albums, five Grammy nominations, 21 Na Hoku Hanohano awards, Amy's career has been motivated by her love of her Hawaiian heritage, her love of Jazz, R&B; and pop, and her ability to dominate the stage, sharing stories of her island upbringing and her beloved Grandmother and famed Hawaiian Hula entertainer, Tutu Napua Woodd.

Amy Hanaialiis talent is the result of an exceptional blend of classical training, modern musical influences and heritage. Raised on the Island of Maui in Hawaii, Hanaialii was raised with the sounds of cultural chants, ancestral drum beats and kani ka pila (music played with family and friends; lit. to play music or an instrument) melded with the sights of lapis colored oceans and verdantly emerald and peridot colored mountains, both abundant with wildlife.

Amy's parents, Lloyd and Mimi Gilliom, had the foresight to enroll their children in youth theatre fostering Hanaialiis talents and opening her horizons to new sounds and beats. This gave way to a predilection of music and eventually a deep passion.

While at Mauis Henry Perrine Baldwin High School, the strong theatre and arts program helped to hone and codify Hanaialiis passion into a mission. After graduation, Amy went on to the United States International University in San Diego, California, where she received formal training in European classical music, jazz, blues, American standards and pop. While immersing herself in studies, Hanaialii, became best of friends with colleagues, who today has made names for themselves in various segments in the entertainment industry. Amy holds a Bachelors of Arts in Fine Arts from the United States International University.

After graduating Amy moved home and spent time with her paternal grandmother, Tutu Jennie Napua Woodd. Undoubtedly one of Hanaialiis biggest influences in her life, Woodd (Tutu as Amy affectionately called her), helped shape America?s view of Hawaii as one of the original Royal Hawaiian Hula Girls, a dancer at the Hawaiian Room at the Lexinton Hotel in New York City and a choreographer in Hollywood through many of its motion pictures in the 1930s and 40s. You can still find internet clips of her on Harry Owen?s show! While performing at the Lexington Hotel in New York, Tutu met Hanaialiis grandfather, Lloyd B. Gilliom, a musician who played trumpet with Swing and Sway with Sammy Kaye, Tommy Dorsey and other notable bands of the era.

While Hanaialii received years of formal musical and theatrical training, it was Tutu Jennie who ultimately inspired her to grow in Hawaiian music. Recognizing her natural vocal abilities, Tutu arranged for a meeting between the legendary Genoa Keawe and her granddaughter. It was Aunty Genoa that introduced Amy to the hai falsetto music. Amys talent of hai brought a new found appreciation for the art of Hawaiian female falsetto style for which she is known today, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Hanaialii remains Hawaiis top-selling female vocalist. The artists for whom Amy has opened are legendary and include Carlos Santana in Gemany, Willie Nelson, Joe Cocker, Wayne Newton, Arlo Guthrie, The Beach Boys, Ernie Watts, Boz Scaggs, Earth, Wind and Fire, Sergio Mendes and many more. Hanaialiis has toured extensively on the East and West Coasts of America, Germany, China, Tahiti and she often frequents Japan, where she captivates and expands her fan base along the way.

Hanaialiis success as a recording artist speaks for itself and is evidenced by the multitude of awards and acknowledgements including five GRAMMY nominations for Best Hawaiian Music Album. Amys albums have also garnered 21 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (Hawaiis equivalent to the GRAMMY), including the prestigious Female Vocalist of the Year (5 times), Hawaiian Album of the Year (4 times), Song of the Year, Group of the Year, Contemporary Album of the Year and even Christmas Album of the Year. These diverse awards provides a clear recognition by Hawaiis music community and by Amys fans that her musics appeal is broad and contains an even more varied depth. Amy is officially Hawaiis Music Ambassador as proclaimed by Hawaiis Governor Linda Lingle.

Hanaialiis second album, Hawaiian Tradition placed her on the World Billboard Charts, a first for an album written solely in the Hawaiian Language. Amy's latest album Friends & Family of Hawaii once again placed on her on the World Billboard Charts and the National Heatseekers Charts, placing the album as one of the highest selling albums in Hanaialiis career. Pacific Business News also acknowledged Amy with their coveted 40