Digital Fix: Nohelani Cypriano

The beginning notes and bird calls of “Lihue” quickly hook you into what becomes 3 full minutes of a seriously tropical groove. I played it last night and again today, and I swear the song gets better with each listen. But you don’t have to be from Hawaii to enjoy “Lihue”—music lovers from Detroit to France praise this tune—and better yet, you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money finding it. eMusic sells the LP, entitled “Around Again”, at $5.99; iTunes, $9.99. (Note: the vinyl release is often referred to as her “Self-Titled” album).

…as Nohe was recording her first LP, she and Dennis [Graue] submitted their original song for the Home Grown contest and won for their single, “Lihue,” which launched her career and became her first hit. Her first LP included her hit “Living Without You,” “You Are So Beautiful,” and “Moon of Manakoora” and branded her music as Hawaiian funk.

UPDATE: Nohelani Cypriano mix 12/2011

I got my hands on more of Nohe’s music, including the CDs Back in Love and What’s Going On. Check out this 22-minute mix of funky tracks from Hawaii’s Diva of Soul music.

Nohelani Cypriano

1. “Unconditional Surrender” from Back in Love (1991)
2. “Lihue” from What’s Going On (1995)
3. “Let’s Do It” from Let’s Do It (1980 single)
4. “Mystery Blue” from Around Again (1978)
5. “Playin’ With Fire” from In the Evening (1982)
6. “Give Love A Try” from In the Evening (1982)
7. “O’Kailua” from Around Again (1978)
8. “Back In Love” from Back In Love (1991)

Before she took off as a solo artist, Nohe was performing with the late 70s psych/prog rock group Golden Throat. The group disbanded after their recording their first LP and later reunited in 2010 for a performance at the Ala Moana Hotel for Hawaii’s 70s Night Club Reunion. Of course, she also performed “Lihue” that night!

Excerpt of the Golden Throat bio from the 70s Night Club Reunion site:

Golden Throat opened for many headliners at Conroy Bowl and the NBC Arena and played in Waikiki clubs, such as the Sting, Waikiki Beef ‘n’ Grog and Hula’s. Some of the members of Golden Throat continued with prominent careers in music. Former bass player Michael Cord established Hana Ola Records … Travis Fullerton moved to Hollywood and played drums for Billy Joel, John Lennon, Bonnie Raitt … Gary Ferguson toured with Etta James, Cher, Ray Charles, Bette Midler … and continues to teach drums in California. Dennis Graue remains in Hawaii and was the musical conductor for Don Ho for many years, recorded and released his own CDs and … performs in Waikiki.

Although it’s not quite my taste at the moment, the album presents a nice mix of folk, jazz and pop music. Check out “Communication” by Golden Throat with Nohelani Cypriano:

I swear I only know a fraction of her recordings, her duet with Kalapana’s Mackey Feary being just one of them. “Let’s Do It” is a gospel-esque disco celebration. The B-side, “We Both Waited Too Long” kicks back slack key style as a song about love lost. It’s always comforting to hear Mackey sing; hearing him alongside Nohe is even better!

Nohe’s discography is 12 deep according to her website. She didn’t list “Let’s Do It” and I’m sure her guest appearances would account for a much longer list. Yet even with so many releases to her name—the most recent called “Pulelehua, My Precious Butterfly”, a dedication for her late mother, Leina’ala Simerson, a long-time entertainer in Hawaii—popular digital music services offer just 4…

“Golden Throat” (eMusic) (iTunes)
“Around Again” (eMusic) (iTunes)
“Let’s Do It” (eMusic) (iTunes)
“Pulelehua” (eMusic) (iTunes)

…I guess that leaves the rest up to you!

  1. “Lihue” is definitely a favorite of mine. Dig that ARP synthesizer sound! The bird sounds remind me of Paradise Park in Manoa Valley…

    I recall Nohelani apologized at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards back in 1979? for mispronouncing “Lihue” as “lee-hu-ee” instead of “lee-hu-ay”!

    Reply

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