Known for his hauntingly beautiful vocals (he’s won Male Vocalist of the Year honors three times – more than any other artist), especially when singing leo ki’eki’e (Hawaiian falsetto), Aweau’s songs on this latest album range from expressing his sudden awe at the beauty of Kahakuloa, Maui as he stood at the top of a ridge looking down on the valley at a place where time seems to have stood still (I Ka La'i O Kahakuloa); to a fun song about traveling to various places in Hawai’i (Ho'ole'ale'a); to the title track, which is a metaphor that describes Hawai'i as Heaven. The melody to Mo'i O Lili'u was written after Aweau dreamt he was standing in front of Iolani Palace with thousands of others on the day Queen Liliuokalani was arrested and imprisoned. The Queen looked at him as she passed and said, "Don't worry about me, take care of each other".
Aweau was born into a musical family, and his early years consisted of piano, guitar, and ‘ukulele lessons, followed by saxophone, percussion, and bass. He began his professional career in college, accompanying such well-known performers as Gabe Baltazar, Henry Kapono, Loyal Garner, and Nohelani Cypriano. He was also a member of the award-winning groups Ka'eo, the Ali'i's, and HAPA, and played with the legendary Don Ho for 16 years. His passion for the electric bass led to his decision to make it his main instrument, which ultimately resulted in his 2005 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award for Jazz Album of the Year for his CD Bass Etude – just one of the many music awards he’s won.
Music critic Wayne Harada of the Honolulu Advertiser said of Aweau, “Nathan is that distinguished rarity…a jack of all trades, master of a wide domain”. The New York Times opined, “Nathan has an in-depth understanding of orchestration, and his singing style is effortless”.
As is the case for all of his solo releases, ‘Āina Hānau is 100% Aweau. He sang all the vocals (including background); played all the instruments; wrote and arranged all the songs (although Kimo Armitage wrote the lyrics for Mo’i ‘O Lili’u and Ai Ishida wrote the lyrics for Inori); and recorded, mixed, and mastered the album at his In My Bathroom Studios.
The CD is currently available at Me Ke Aloha. Wider release through other online and retail outlets will follow.
(Note about the track Nathan wrote for his new granddaughter (Lilia): he said that when his daughter told him and his wife that she was pregnant, he was not a happy camper (he wasn’t ready to be a GRANDPA!), but his wife was really excited, so what he thought didn't matter – ha! But when Lilia was born she totally melted his heart. He forgave his daughter.... )