Multiple Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winner Sean Na’auao has been playing music for more than 30 years and is no stranger to Talk Story host McKenna Maduli. He was a staple visitor at her home growing up and worked closely with her father, Kata Maduli, who produced songs for the Makaha Sons. Looking back, he remembers those days of being a part of Mount Kalihi Productions as very special.
“There were a lot of different artists that supported Makana Sons, like Sister Robi, Fiji, Ernie Cruz, John Cruz, Rocky Brown, all of them,” said Na’auao. “We were so fortunate to tour with them and, of course, we used to have the rehearsals in your garage. Every time after our rehearsals it would be big, you know how your dad does it, with the full-on barbeque. It’s like a big ohana party. A rehearsal and ohana party. So that’s the most that I miss, back in the day.”
Being a part of Mana’o Company was how it all began for Na’auao and now, three decades later, he’s gratified his son Kupu is carrying on his legacy. “When I look back at it, it happened pretty quickly,” explains Na’auao. “This year Mana’o Company celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Doing all the songs (from) 30-plus years ago, like when I was in my 20s, that was the good ole days. Now, seeing my son in the same age I was when I started Mana’o Company and seeing what he did with the group Hu’ewa and now with his solo CD. I am a really, really happy and proud papa.”
At just 14 years old Kupu Dalire-Na’auao won his first Nā Hōkū Hanohano award and this year, released his first solo CD “Chasing Legacy,” with several songs written by award winner Frank Kawaikapukalani Hewett.
“Uncle Frank blessed me with three songs,” said Dalire-Na’auao. “One entitled “Waolani.” The second was “Maile Beauty” and then the third one was “He Mele No Pi’apa.” Those (are) all beautiful mele written by Uncle Frank. I just want to do my own thing but still remember where I came from and keep to my roots.”
There’s a reason why his dad did not produce this album. “Before he started the CD,” Na’auao explains, “he said ‘dad, you know I can always come to you for help but I want to do this one on my own because if I fail there’s nobody else to blame but himself.’ That’s what he told me. So I said, you know what boy, all the blessings to you. Whatever you need I am always here for you, so I am so proud of him.”
About Sean Na’auao: Sean Na’auao is a Slack Key guitarist and vocalist, composer and producer and has won Hawaii’s prestigious Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards multiple times including Island Contemporary Album of the Year for his popular “Fish and Poi.” Recognized for his exceptional vocal ability, he made Frank Hewitt’s traditional Hawaiian composition, “Kapilina,” a famous hit. Sean was a founding member of the Mana’o Company, a group that made a huge mark on the Hawaiian music scene in the 80s and 90s.
About Kupu Dalire-Na’auao: Kupu Dalire-Na’auao is a two-time Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winner with his former group Hu’ewa. The son of Kumu Hula Kau’i Dalire and Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winner Sean Na’auao, the family ties have provided him with a solid foundation in Hawaiian music. His newest solo CD, “Chasing Legacy,” showcases his understanding of Hawaiian culture and language through Hawaiian mele.
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