Many people had no idea that in his 60 years in the entertainment business, jazz vocalist Jimmy Borges had never won a Hoku Award. Last night, he won four.
His night of accolades started with the Moe Keale “Aloha Is” community service award, and built up to a climactic sweep of the actual Hokus: first jazz album of the year, then overall album of the year, male vocalist of the year, and favorite entertainer of the year (this last one is determined by public vote). Borges — who has been battling terminal liver and lung cancer — couldn’t make it to the event, but his wife Vicki Bergeron Borges and Steffanie Borges Juergenson accepted the awards for him.
Chad Takatsugi tied Borges for taking the most trophies last night, with Hokus for his first solo album, “Ahuwale”: Hawaiian music album of the year, liner notes, Haku Mele Award (composer’s award) and Hawaiian language performance award (artist award). He will be adding these trophies to his previous Hokus from his work with ‘Ale‘a.
Natalie Ai Kamauu took home three Hokus for “La La La La,” her 2016 Grammy finalist-album: female vocalist of the year, single of the year for “Shower Tree” and engineering (technically, for studio engineer Dave Tucciarone).
The final roster of winners is listed below. In addition to the awards themselves, the entertainment throughout the evening provided even more excitement, showcasing true talent with Hoku nominees’ collaborative performances. It started with the Kamehameha Schools’ Children’s Choir, Aidan James and his band, Kahulanui, and The Rough Riders (Henry Kapono, John Cruz and Brother Noland). The collab performances included Manualua and Chad Takatsugi; Ben and Maila with Tazz Vegas; Lily Meola and Blayne Asing; Nathan Aweau and Jake Shimabukuro; New Hope Oahu with Mark Yamanaka and Kris Fuchigami; Natalie Ai Kamauu, Pali Kaaihue and Jenn Wright; and Sean Na‘auao with Kimie Miner. The evening ended with classic Kalapana.
Here are scenes, inside and out, from the 39th annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. Photos by Melissa Chang, Amanda Stevens and Russ Sumida.
2016 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award winners:
• Graphics: B. Kanai‘a Nakamura, for “He Inoa” by Maunalua (Lokahi)
• Liner Notes Award: Chad Takatsugi and Keawe Lopes, for “Ahuwale” by Chad Takatsugi (Koops2)
• Engineering — Hawaiian Music: Dave Tucciarone for “La La La La” by Natalie Ai Kamauu
• Engineering — Non-Hawaiian Music: Pierre Grill for “Never Before” by Lou Armagno
• Haku Mele Award (Composer’s Award): “He Wehi No Pauahi” by Kahikina De Silva and Chad Takatsugi, from “Ahuwale,” Chad Takatsugi (Koops2)
• Hawaiian Language Performance Award (Artist Award): Chad Takatsugi, for “Ahuwale” (Koops2)
• International Album Special Recognition Award: “Ukulele Splash,” Ryo Natoyama (Intense Music) The Ki Ho‘alu Foundation Legacy Award: Paul Tokioka
• Instrumental Composition (Composer’s Award): “Old Pali,” by Jeff Peterson, Jeff Peterson (Peterson)
• Favorite Entertainer of the Year: Jimmy Borges
• Alternative Album of the Year: “Beyond Paradise,” Streetlight Cadence (Streetlight Cadence)
• Anthology Album of the Year (producer’s award): “30,” Kapena (KDE) Kapena De Lima, producer
• Christmas Album of the Year: “Gift of the Heart, A,” Mark Yamanaka &Kupaoa (Hulu Kupuna)
• Comedy Album of the Year: “Electric Island,” Kepa Kruse (Petroglyph)
• Compilation Album of the Year (producer’s award): “Aloha ‘Ia No ‘O Maui,” Institute of Hawaiian Music (no label) Keola Donaghy, producer
• Contemporary Album of the Year: “Kimie Miner,” Kimie Miner (Kimie Miner)
• Hawaiian Music Album of the Year: “Ahuwale,” Chad Takatsugi (Koops2)
• Instrumental Album of the Year: “Pacific Harp Project,” Pacific Harp Project (Megan Bledsoe Ward)
• Island Music Album of the Year: “‘Aina Hanau,” Nathan Aweau (Bass Plus Music Arts)
• Jazz Album of the Year: “Jimmy Borges,” Jimmy Borges (Mountain Apple)
• Music DVD of the Year: “Brother for the People — Official Music Video,” Taz Vegas (RSM)
• R&B Album of the Year: “Live From Kauai,” Taj Mahal &The Hula Blues Band (Kuleana)
• Religious Album of the Year: “Greater Together,” New Hope Oahu (NHO/Dream)
• Rock Album of the Year: “Endangered Species,” Stuart Hollinger (Keala)
• Slack Key Album of the Year: “O‘ahu,” Jeff Peterson (Peterson)
• ‘Ukulele Album of the Year: “‘Ukulele Friends,” Bryan Tolentino and Herb Ohta, Jr. (Neos)
• Female Vocalist of the Year: Natalie Ai Kamauu, “La La La La” (Keko)
• Group of the Year : Maunalua, “He Inoa” (Lokahi)
• Male Vocalist of the Year: Jimmy Borges, “Jimmy Borges” (Mountain Apple)
• Album of the Year: “Jimmy Borges,” Jimmy Borges (Mountain Apple) Jon de Mello, producer
• Most Promising Artist of the Year: Blayne Asing, “Young, Old Soul” (no label)
• Single of the Year: “Shower Tree,” Natalie Ai Kamauu (Keko)
• EP (Extended Play) of the Year: “We Ride,” The Rough Riders (Rough Rider)
• Song of the Year: “‘Aina Hanau” by Nathan Aweau from “‘Aina Hanau,” Nathan Aweau (Bass Plus Music Arts)
The Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards cap off Mele Mei, the monthlong celebration of Hawaii’s music.