The Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts (HARA) and Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards trace their origins to 1978 and KCCN-AM Radio, then the world’s only all-Hawaiian music radio station.
Conceived as a radio station promotion by Krash Kealoha (Victor ‘Ōpiopio), legendary deejay, program director and driving creative force behind KCCN-AM, in Nā Hōkū Hanohano (The Stars of Distinction), Kealoha envisioned a formal recognition and celebration of recorded musical excellence in Hawai‘i—so long ignored by mainland awards programs.
Kealoha—with the support of KCCN owner Sydney Grayson and Kealoha’s original deejay team including Kimo Kaho‘āno and Jacqueline “Skylark” Rossetti—launched the first Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards presentation in 1978.
As no organized “academy of artists” yet existed among Hawaii ’s musicians—the role HARA would come to play —the earliest awards were determined by public vote.
By 1982, Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards evolved into an industry awards ceremony administered by recording professionals. The Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts was patterned after the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (also referred to as NARAS or the Recording Academy), which produces the Grammy Awards. Each year the Hawai‘i Academy produces a live television broadcast of the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards honoring the achievements of excellence in the recording arts. It has become the biggest annual entertainment event in Hawai‘i. Commercially available recordings created, produced, and/or engineered and primarily distributed in Hawai‘i are accepted for nomination.
All eligible recordings released between January 1 and December 31 of each year and submitted to the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts are included in the preliminary balloting. An accounting firm tabulates the votes and the five recordings with the most votes in each category proceed to the final ballot.
For the technical categories (graphics and liner notes) committees are established to select the five finalists on the final ballot. The accounting firm tabulates the votes for the final ballot and the winners are announced at our award ceremonies.
A committee of Hawaiian language and music specialists selects the adjudicated categories.
The Favorite Entertainer of the Year Award is selected by public voting conducted via an online voting process.
Album of the Year (Artist and Producerʻs Award): Best produced album release of the Year.
EP (Extended Play) of the Year: Best release that contains more than 3 but no more than 8 separate tracks, and is of less than 30 minutes in total playing time.
Hawaiian EP (Extended Play) of the Year: Best release that contains more than 3 but no more than 8 separate tracks, and is of less than 30 minutes in total playing time. 75% of the tracks must be in the Hawaiian language.
Single of the Year: Best recorded performance of a song released as a single in either physical (CD) or digital format.
Hawaiian Single : Best recorded performance of a song in the Hawaiian language released as a single in either physical (CD or digital format)
Song of the Year: (Composer’s Award) Best achievement in creating a first–time recorded song including words and music.
Instrumental Song of the Year: (Composerʻs Award) Best achievement in creating a first–time recorded instrumental composition.
Music Video of the Year: Best performance of music and video. May contain no more than two (2) distinct music tracks.
Hawaiian Music Video of the Year: Best performance of music and video. At least 75% of the video music contain musical performance or content in which the music of Hawai‘i is the subject. May contain no more than two (2) distinct music tracks.
Female Vocalist of the Year: Best performance by a female artist.
Group of the Year: Best performance by a vocal duo or group.
Male Vocalist of the Year: Best performance by a male artist.
Most Promising Artist of the Year: Most promising first–recorded effort as a featured artist or group.
Favorite Entertainer of the Year: Selected by the general public.
Alternative Album of the Year: Best performance of music in an alternative style.
Anthology of the Year: Best album of previously released material.
Christmas Album of the Year: Best performance of music with a Christmas theme.
Comedy Album or DVD of the Year: Best comedy performance on an album or DVD.
Compilation Album of the Year: (Producerʻs Award) Best performance of newly released material by a minimum of three distinct artists.
Contemporary Album of the Year: Best performance of music in a contemporary style, and predominantly utilizing electric and/or electronic instruments.
Contemporary Acoustic Album of the Year: Best performance of music in a contemporary style, and predominantly utilizing acoustic instruments.
Hawaiian Album of the Year: Best performance of Hawaiian music.
Hip Hop Album of the Year: Best performance of music in a Hip Hop style.
Instrumental Album of the Year: Best instrumental performance.
Island Music Album of the Year: Best contemporary performance of music of or about Hawai‘i.
Jazz Album of the Year: Best jazz performance.
Metal Album of the Year: Best metal performance.
R&B Album of the Year: Best performance of music in a R&B style.
Reggae Album of the Year: Best reggae performance.
Religious Album of the Year: Best performance of religious material.
Rock Album of the Year: Best rock performance.
Slack Key Album of the Year: Best performance of slack key or vocals with slack key accompaniment.
‘Ukulele Album of the Year: Best ‘ukulele performance.
Haku Mele: (Composerʻs Award) Best first–released song or chant primarily in the Hawaiian Language.
Hawaiian Language Performance: (Artist Award) Best performance in the Hawaiian language.
General Engineering Award: Best technical achievement in a sound recording and mix-down for all genres of music other than Hawaiian music albums, slack key, and ‘ukulele albums.
Hawaiian Engineering Award: Best technical achievement in a sound recording and mix-down for Hawaiian music albums, slack key, and ‘ukulele albums.
Liner Notes: Best achievement in album annotation.
Graphics: Best achievement in album cover design.
International Album of the Year: Best performance by non–US performer(s) on an album or DVD whose tracks are at least 75% in the Hawaiian language or performed in slack key or Island Music styles.
Nomination Process & Form
The guidelines and nomination form for the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards are now available for download as .pdf files. Please note that all entries must be received at the HARA office no later than the last business day in January following the end of the eligibility year, and they must include all required deposit materials as specified on the nomination form. Entries received after that date or missing required deposit materials will not be accepted.
Email + Mailout Service
HARA offers a mail-out and an email blast service to members. The list of HARA members is never distributed or shared to any individual or organization, but HARA acknowledges the importance of communicating news of an event, a new release for Hoku Award consideration, and other worthy communication to fellow members.