March has arrived, and with it comes the preparation, printing and mailing of the preliminary ballot for the 2011 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. Like many, I was oblivious to the amount of work, consideration and communication that goes into this process until I joined the HARA Board of Governors four years ago and subsequently became a member of the selection committee. The amount of work is tremendous, the rewards few, and the consternation is sometimes overhwelming. It’s impossible to please everybody, and the job of finding the appropriate category for many releases is challenging, particulary when the majority are based on musical style (jazz, reggae, rock, etc.), others thematic (Christmas, religious, island music) and some based on language (Hawaiian Album and Language Performance). The committee did an admirable job, and I applaud my colleagues.
Another part of “March Madness” (as I fondly call it), is the beginning of the “awareness campaigns” that are popular during the preliminary and final balloting processes. Neither the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts (the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards) nor the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammy Awards) allows blatant solititation of votes, vote swapping, or other nefarious activities, though I doubt there are many that would deny that it happens with both awards.