After a two and a half year long respite from the Board of Governors of the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts, I’m back. Or at least I will be back officially after the swearing-in ceremony at the General Membership meeting. Mahalo to the current members of the board for accepting my offer to step back in and fill a vacant seat on the board. The General Membership meeting will be held on November 11, 2015 at Island Sound Studios in Hawai‘i Kai. I hope to see many members there. Please contact the HARA office for more information by calling (808) 593-9424 or emailing email@example.com for more information.
One of the responsibilities I happily undertook during my previous time on the board – and will again – was handling the production of a newsletter, updating of the website and social media presences, and being a point of contact for members with questions or concerns about the organization, the awards, and entry process. So if anyone has anything to ask, feel free to contact me. I can’t respond in an official capacity until after November 11, but hopefully can provide some answers or insight.
I like to believe that musicians put out recordings as artistic expression as well as a means to support themselves and their families. The Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards and other such programs play a significant role in gaining exposure and (hopefully) sales. Understanding that, it is surprising when I’m contacted by industry professionals who don’t understand the awards, its entry requirements and guidelines. Please educate yourself. Know the time frame in which your recording must be released in order to be eligible for entry. Know the deadline by which your release must be entered. Know the criteria that determine the category or categories for which your recording is eligible. And if this is not clear – ASK!
Examples: If you want to have a recording entered in the “Hawaiian Album of the Year” category, know that 75% of the tracks must be in the Hawaiian language. Most genre categories have a 75% quantum. Know that if you are a mainland member, your releases are only eligible to be entered in the Hawaiian, Slack Key, Island Music, ‘Ukulele, Haku Mele, and Hawaiian Language Performance categories. Know that by rule all Christmas themed releases must be entered in the Christmas category. So if you live on the mainland and record a Hawaiian Christmas CD, it is not eligible to be entered in the awards. Anywhere. These are just a few examples. Yes it is complicated, and this is why it is behooves everyone to inquire and be informed.
I doubt that many of us really want to consider these things when recording and preparing a release. We don’t want these kinds of considerations to influence our art. But ignore these guidelines at your own peril. During my prior stint on the board, I spoke to many members who were upset at not being able to enter recordings in the categories that they wanted. But they should have considered these factors before finalizing the release.
Submission Forms and Ch…Ch…Changes
The submission guidelines, downloadable submission form and an online submission form for the 2016 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards are now available on the awards website. Please note some recent and important changes:
EP (Extended Play) Releases. The board changed the criteria for Extended Play releases. Previously the criteria included both a minimum and maximum number of tracks, as well as a maximum to play time (less than 30 minutes). Now, the criteria simply states that it must have more than 3 (three) tracks (read: a minimum of 4 tracks) and no more than 8 (eight). There is no maximum playtime. Important note: Since the Single category stipulates that a Single release can have only one or two songs, releases that have 3 (three) tracks cannot be entered in Single nor as EP releases.
Genre Categories. Releases entered in any of the genre categories must now contain 75% newly-recorded or previously unreleased material by the artist to qualify for submission. Anthologies, as albums of previously released material, are the only exception. The Anthology category stipulates that least 75% of the album must have previously released material from at least two (2) different releases.
Slack Key. The board and selection committee have refined the criteria for the Slack Key category. Here is the new language:
“Slack Key Guitar or Ki Ho‘alu Kika is a uniquely Hawaiian approach to guitar playing that is unlike any other guitar style in the world. It gets its name from the way the guitar is tuned – some of the strings are loosened or slacked. It is usually characterized as having an alternating bass line while the melody is plucked on the higher pitched strings.
Techniques and ornamentations include slides, pull-offs, add-ons, hammers, slurs, and harmonics (sometimes referred to as chimes). The music sometimes reflects hula rhythms and is characterized by turnarounds or “vamps”, phrases, and chordal structure of the compositions. Just playing in an alternate tuning does NOT make it slack key. It’s the dedication to the bass in support of the melody that differentiates it.”
In my opinion, there are many recent slack key releases that have begun to wander further and further from the foundations of slack key, incorporating more and more non-Hawaiian influences, and some are becoming indistinguishable from other folk, “world music” and Americana acoustic guitar recordings. Artists are certainly free to do so and call their releases “slack key” if they like. But the Academy – for the purposes of the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards – has chosen to require a closer adherence to the peformance characteristics that make eligible recordings more idenitfiably “slack key.” This decision was made prior to my return to the board, but I support it.
Haku Mele. There is a limit on the number of composers/composition teams that may be entered from any single release: one (1) composition per composer per release is permitted. Compositions co-written with one or more composers may be submitted up to a total of three (3) distinct composer(s)/composer groups per release. This change was implemented last year for the 2015 awards, but it is worth reiterating here.
Deadline For Entries. Friday, January 15, 2016 by 4:00 p.m. All submission forms and deposit material (CDs, DVDs, lyric/translation copies; and for online digital releases only: track sheets, credit listings and cover art) must be received at the HARA office by the deadline, without exception.
Please feel free to visit these pages and read my previous ruminations on the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards, and if you have questions – ask!