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World Music CD Reviews North American

Ahumanu

By James Rodgers
Published June 22, 2007

The Gathering
Ululoa Productions

Fresh off the island of Maui comes the strong debut recording of Ahumanu, three female vocalists singing traditional and contemporary Hawaiian songs. Made up of Liz Morales, Joni DeMello, and Joni’s mom, Bessie DeMello, the individual voices are pleasant and charming but the harmonies are magical, as if the Andrews Sisters had come from Hawaii. While Bessie sings harmony vocals, Liz and Joni share lead duties and also play much of the instrumentation. It was shrewd to have only one instrumental piece, the groovy “KP Shuffle,” because it’s the combination of voices that makes the songs sound new again. What also comes through is their love of family, Hawaii, music, and Elvis, with the King represented twice. Most of these tunes have been recorded many times before, but a good artist knows how to make it their own, and Ahumanu put their stamp on every song.