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Album Review

If the concept of Hawaiian Christmas music suggests anything to the average person, it may be a memory of Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters' 1950 recording "Mele Kalikimaka," which certainly wasn't one of Crosby's bigger Christmas hits, but still gets a few plays every holiday season. Hawaiian singer Keali'i Reichel doesn't cover that song on his Christmas album, Maluhia, but not because he is a strict tradtionalist. Actually, like his non-seasonal CDs, this one contains a mixture of Hawaiian traditional material, new originals by Reichel or his musical associates, and covers of adult contemporary material; for the season, he also adds some conventional Christmas songs like "O Holy Night" and "Silent Night." Anyone who has trouble reconciling the artist's interest in singing in Hawaiian with his affection for, in this case, the music of the Carpenters and Amy Grant simply hasn't been paying attention to his career so far. Reichel loves soft rock and middle-of-the-road pop along with his native music, which he also likes to update, and his albums always combine these elements. What makes it all work, here and on his other discs, is his tenor voice, which has a slight vibrato he uses for emotional effect. Slipping Maluhia on in a stack of Christmas CDs may add a slightly exotic flavor to a Christmas celebration, but it won't be jarring. In fact, this is a soothing collection of music for the most part.


Born: Hawaii

Genre: World

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The most popular Hawaiian artist of the 1990s, Keali'i Reichel has artfully balanced obligatory concessions to American pop music with the heartfelt qualities of traditional Hawaiian chanting, a style that places tremendous importance on conveying intense emotion with the intricacies of the human voice. The first-born son of a German father and native Hawaiian mother, Reichel spent the first five years of his life living with grandparents (as is normal in Hawaii), learning the traditional values...
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Maluhia, Keali'i Reichel
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