Gary Aiko Poina ‘ole ‘ia
Poina ‘Ole ‘Ia

CD Info

Poina ‘Ole ‘Ia took almost two years to complete.

The original concept for the CD, developed in the fall of 2010, was to be a double album with twenty or more selections. This was later revised to an album with a single CD of a dozen songs that were special to Gary. Many of the songs are Gary's favorites, and visitors to the weekly Keawe ‘Ohana show at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa's Moana Terrace have heard Gary sing some of the album's selections at one time or another. Once the final twelve selections were identified, musical arrangements were created.

Steel guitar master and steel guitarist for the Keawe ‘Ohana, Alan Akaka, created the musical arrangements for the CD. Alan Akaka and The Islanders, comprising Alan, Gary and Patrick "Kaipo" Asing, provided backup music and vocals. Two special guest artists appeared on the CD at Gary's request: neice Pomaika‘i Keawe Lyman duets with Gary on "E Maliu Mai" and brother Eric Keawe solos on one of their mom's favorite songs: Stevie Wonder's "Lately". The final selections offer a variety of music covering many genres, from traditional Hawaiian songs to Broadway, from slow, romantic ballads to the upbeat and humorous.

Recording was done in multiple sessions, using the facilities of Greg Sardinha's Sma' Kine Recording Studio with Greg as recording engineer. Some songs experienced several iterations of arrangements before a final version was arrived at. Recording was completed during the middle of 2011. Lynn Cook architected the CD's liner notes and CD album graphics were designed by Stacey Leong Design. The mechanics of assembling the final product–the album graphics layout, liner notes, and track notes–required more time than originally anticipated and it wasn't until summer of 2012 that the album elements were finalized. Photography of the album cover was then scheduled so that photographed elements could complement the album's presentation. Photography by Arna Johnson was then completed.

The ultimate goal was an album that would satisfy Gary and the entire production team, and with the release of Poina ‘Ole ‘Ia that goal has been realized.

CD Trivia

Handwritten Note

Lyrics Translation

Hawaiian language specialist Aunty Malia Craver played a pivotal role in the production of this CD. Never before has the song "Unforgettable" been sung with Hawaiian lyrics–lyrics that were created by Aunty Malia.

"Unforgettable" was written by Irving Gordon and first published in 1951. The most well-known versions are by Nat King Cole and a follow-up version by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole in 1991. Dozens of other singers have recorded their own versions of this song. Gary has always liked this song and wanted to sing his own version, combining English and Hawaiian lyrics. To accomplish this, Gary enlisted the aid of Aunty Malia Craver to help with the translation to Hawaiian.

It took awhile for the translation to be completed. Aunty Malia noted that "…most of the haole songs and its terms we do not have in Hawaiian, neither do we think poetically alike. As a result it's difficult to translate them." The final Hawaiian lyrics represent Aunty Malia's best efforts at making sense in Hawaiian.

Pictures from the CD Liner Notes

Pictures from the Poina ‘Ole ‘Ia liner notes. Click on picture for an enlarged view.

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Poina ‘Ole ‘Ia CD Track Notes

Each track on the CD was selected by Gary for a special reason. In the CD liner notes, Gary gives his reasons why each track was chosen for his CD.

Track 1: Poina ‘Ole ‘Ia (Unforgettable)

"I always loved the song 'Unforgettable' and I asked Hawaiian lnaguage Aunty Malia Craver to translate it from English to Hawaiian. It took her a year to find the right words. Once I sang it for mom, it was the song she most requested from me."

Track 2: Aloha Ka Manini

"An entertainer friend in Hawai‘i, Myra English, sang this song. We honor her, and her friendship with my mom, when we sing 'Aloha Ka Manini.'"

Track 3: Bali Hai

"Alfred Apaka sang this on Broadway. It has romance in every word. I am honored when fans say I sound like Alfred. It was hard to do it justice, but I gave it my best shot. If you're going to be compared to someone, it's good to be compared with the best!"

Track 4: Behold Lai‘e

"Lovely Lai‘e, where I was born. I had to add those words about my birthplace, just for the recording. After singing it with the Royal Hawaiian Band, I wish I could have recorded it with them."

Track 5: E Maliu Mai

"Composed by Aunty Irmgard Farden ‘Aluli, I sang this love song with my mom, Auntie Genoa. In honor of my mom, I asked my neice, Pomaika‘i Keawe Lyman to sing with me, bringing her own style to the gift of falsetto, passed on from her grandmother."

Track 6: Ho‘omalimali

"My uncle Alvin Kaleolani Isaacs composed this. It has the sound of the Royal Hawaiian Serenaders built into the upbeat tempo–just plain fun!"

Track 7: Lately

"This one is for our mom. She always asked my brother, Eric Keawe, to sing this. So, I asked him too. It is a Stevie Wonder song that really tells a special story."

Track 8: Tiare No Tahiti

"Benny Kalama introduced me to this song. I got to know him and he took a liking to me, so he wrote an arrangement for me. I sing it in Tahitian."

Track 9: Ho‘omanawanui

"Randy Oness composed this song. We were jamming at Mihana Souza's house in Kailua, It is just a good fun song and getting to know Randy was good fun, too."

Track 10: Hawai‘i's Charm

"Alfred Apaka sang this song, with music written by Harry B. Soria, Sr. and lyrics by Dick Gump. I promised Harry B. Jr. that I would sing it just as it was composed back in 1939."

Track 11: Hawaiian Cowboy

"This song sings to my Spanish heritage, vaquero from Santiago, Mexico. Performing it with the Royal Hawaiian Band, or with Alan Akaka and the Keawe ’Ohana, it helps me remember how much I love to ride horse. Ku‘ulei in the choruses are my version."

Track 12: Hawaii Sang Me to Sleep

"I heard this somewhere and knew it was an end of the evening sort of song and sounds a bit like a 1940s movie. It is a sweet lullaby song, all about Hawaii singing you to sleep."

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Note from Aunty Malia Craver
Handwritten note from Aunty Malia Craver

Translated Lyrics from Aunty Malia Craver
The actual handwritten translation from Aunty Malia Craver, scribed on filler paper

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Gary at glee club.

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Gary on horseback

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Gary surfing

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Gary on surfboard

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Gary playing polo

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Gary in his signature leopard skin bikini