University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Associate Professor Keola Donaghy, along with his musical group Aʻeaʻe, won two Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards in July; for Group of the Year and Hawaiian EP (Extended Play) of the Year; for their eponymous debut EP of country flavored, contemporary Hawaiian music.
Aʻeaʻe means, “Mixing of a dark or brilliant color with a lighter one, as feathers in a lei; of dark hair of a young person with streaks of gray.” Members include Maui residents Donaghy and Tarvin Makia, Oʻahu resident Kenneth Makuakāne, Nashville-based Jeff “Lokomaikaʻi” Dayton and Māpuana Mākia. Most have been long-time friends and occasional collaborators.
“For me, the biggest thrill was sharing the stage with my friends Tarvin and Jeff and my niece, Māpuana,” said Donaghy. “It was also a thrill to have Gaylord Holomalia of Kalapana and Israel Kamakawiwoʻole‘s band join us on keyboard. Gaylord wrote “Lover of Mine,” and my Hawaiian interpretation of it was one of the songs we performed. It was just an amazing night.”
- Related UH News story: Record your own mele! UH Maui College offers free music composing course, May 2, 2023
Donaghy is the faculty coordinator of music studies at UH Maui College, and is a prolific haku mele (composer of Hawaiian language poetry). His compositions have been recorded by Kealiʻi Reichel, The Pandanus Club, Willie K. and Amy Hānaialiʻi Gilliom, the De Lima ʻOhana, O’Brian Eselu and many others. He has produced five CDs by students in his Institute of Hawaiian Music program at UH Maui College, which have garnered three Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards.
Three of the EP’s five tracks are originals. Donaghy composed “Aia I Kīlauea (ʻĀ Mai)” after a visit to the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater several years ago, to which Makuakāne added the music.
Two tracks are Hawaiian interpretations of well-known English songs. “Tennessee Whiskey” was composed by Dean Dillon and first recorded by George Jones, and most recently reinterpreted by Chris Stapleon. After securing Dillon’s blessing, Donaghy created this version in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.
The final track, “I Ka Laʻi O Lahaina,” is a reinvisioned re-recording of one of Donaghy and Makuakāne’s earliest collaborations. Jim Riley, drummer of the country music group Rascal Flatts, contributed drum tracks to the song.
Makuakāne and Donaghy also won the Anthology of the Year award as producers of Makuakāne’s anthology, Huliau.
Aʻeaʻe is available on all major digital download and streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music.