Honoring Hawaii’s Music Industry
The Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, occasionally called the Na Hoku Awards or Hoku Awards, are the premier music awards in Hawaii, and are Hawaii’s equivalent of the Grammy Awards. “Nā Hōkū Hanohano” means “Stars of Distinction” in Hawaiian – “hōkū” means “star”, “nā” makes it plural, and “hanohano” means “glorious, worthy of praises”.
The awards were founded in 1978 by radio personality Krash Kealoha of KCCN-AM, a radio station which focused on traditional Hawaiian music. The award winners are currently selected by the voting members of the non-profit Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts, which was founded in 1982.
Release Eligibility, Entry & Voting
Music recordings must be available for commercial sale through established retailers of physical products (CD and DVD or other media) or through established digital download retailers in order to be eligible for entry in the awards. Recordings that are released during the calendar year (January 1 through December 31) are eligible to be entered in the following year’s awards.
Eligibility in most of the award’s categories is restricted to Hawaii resident artists and other industry professional, though non-Hawaii U.S. residents are eligible in the Hawaiian, Island Music, Ukulele, Slack Key, Haku Mele, and Hawaiian Language Performance categories. There is a special recognition award for non-U.S. residents who release recordings that prominently feature Hawaiian, Island Music, ukulele, or slack key music.
The Academy solicits entries in fall of the eligibility year, and entries for the awards must be received by January 15 of the year in which the awards will be held. Entrants must complete an online or downloadable entry form and submit copies of the releases to the Academy by that date. Membership in the Academy is not required to enter a release.
The Academy’s selection committee assembles a preliminary ballot which is sent to all regular (voting) members, usually in March. The top five vote-getters are tabulated, and the selection committee creates a final ballot, which is also sent to regular members, usually in April. The winners are tabulated by an accounting firm, and remain secret until they are announced at the awards presentation in May.
The Na Hoku Hanohano Awards currently present awards in 34 categories (as of 2017). A minimum of three eligible releases must be entered in any category in order for that category to be awarded in that year. Unless otherwise noted, eligibility in most categories is restricted to Hawaii residents.