Spending a lot of time in the car as we did on both the Big Island of Hawaii and on Maui, we found a lot of different types of music can be found in Hawaii. Most of it is traditional Hawaiian music - ukulele or slack-key guitar-based music with words in the native Hawaiian language. But we did find one station - KLHI, also known as Native 92.5 - that introduced us to a new style of music that we certainly weren't familiar with - Contemporary Hawaiian. I'm not talking about traditional Hawaiian music by Don Ho or by Israel "Iz" Kamakawiwoʻole, but new age Hawaiian by groups and artists such as Rebel Souljahz, Rushouze and Amy Hanailai'i Gilliom.
FM radio stations don't cover as much ground as AM stations, mainly because their broadcast radius is determined by the height of the antenna and how much power they use to transmit. Their signal is categorized as "line of sight", meaning that if you have clear access to the tower and the broadcast signal is strong enough, you should be able to get the station. KLHI transmitted from a hillside on the southwest side of Maui, not far from where we stayed in Wailea. We were able to pick it up pretty well on the Big Island, especially if we stayed on the northwest side of the island. However, once we got up into the hills around Waimea the signal would rapidly diminish. Even on the east side of Maui, we would have trouble getting the station in because of the high terrain between us and the station.
We found ourselves sort of getting sucked in by this Hawaiian Contemporary Music that Native 92.5 played. The musical stylings feature strong elements of reggae. And they even had a name for this style of music - "Jawaiian" - because it closely resembled Jamaican music structures. But in this style of music we also heard bits of soul, hip-hop, jazz and even Mexican Tejano. There was a strong brass element in many of the songs with trumpets covering many background fills. But the key to songs were the strong harmonies on nearly every tune. Hawaiians have some great voices.
The music was infectious, but not overpowering. It was the type of music that you'd suddenly sort of start to bob your head to the beat. We heard some religious songs, but not many. We also heard some political songs, such as "The Warrior" by the Polynesian artist Fiji where he sang about the civil rights abuses that still exist in parts of that region on earth. But for the most part, many of the songs were either original songs by Hawaiian artists, or reworked 70's and 80's soft-rock songs that were given a native Hawaiian signature. A number of artists used the vocal effect known as "auto-effect" such as was used in Cher's 1990's hit, "Believe". Native 92.5 would rotate 25 to 30 songs on a daily basis. To see the current song list of what they're playing, click here.
Contemporary Hawaiian Music is relaxing and not taxing like some music can be. Reggae can be sort of tedious and monotonous, but I didn't really find anything repetitive about "Jawaiian" music. Some of the better artists we heard on Native 92.5 included The Green (formerly Next Generation), Sean Na'auao, B.U.B.Z., Ooklah the Moc and Inik (pronounced E-nick). Of course, the station also featured true reggae artists such as Bob Marley, his son, Ziggy Marley, Third World and Jimmy Cliff. They even played music from the innovative Jewish/Reggae artist Matisyahu. There was really nothing better than cruising down a seaside highway with Native 92.5 cranked up in the car. It brought the whole Hawaiian culture that much closer to what we were trying to experience.
You can get Native 92.5 on your computer and I suggest you give it a try. Click on this link - Native 92.5 Listen Live - and it will take you to a front page. If you have a high-speed connection, click on the 64K button. If you don't have one already, you'll have to do a quick download of an Abacast plug-in player for you computer, but it's safe and quick. It's worth the minimal effort to listen to some great music from the Hawaiian islands.
There's not much that we could bring back from Hawaii that really helped capture the essence of what life out there was all about. But closing my eyes and listening to Contemporary Hawaiian Music on Native 92.5 gives me that soothing sense of a Hawaiian lifestyle that we enjoyed for a couple weeks during our visit.