Raiatea Helm plays a dynamic role in the current state of music in Hawaii. She bridges the gap between modern musical development and the traditional Hawaiian style, the latter she wishes to preserve, knowing its sound and legacy can be celebrated through new variations.
With a childhood surrounded by traditional Hawaiian music, her heart gravitates to the voices of Myrtle K. Hilo, Leina’ala Haili and many other musicians of the ’50s and ’60s. Helm’s 2011 album Sea Of Love was intended to have elements of rich, full grandiosity, sounds which relived the art of playing with an accompanying band.
“Sea Of Love is an album I’ve always wanted to do using a bigger sound, most of the recordings consist of an eight-piece band, which we recorded at Mamiya Theatre,” says Helm, who was featured on MidWeek‘s cover June 10, 2005.
“Also my love for traditional Hawaiian music goes back to that period when they used to play in Waikiki. Leina’ala Haili is a huge influence of mine; my father introduced me to her when I was young. A lot of the songs are done in the generation style of the late ’50s.”
A two-time Grammy-nominated artist, Helm just finished performing with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra in its recent Pops series.
“It was a great success. It is really neat to play for them and it is a great venue. For some reason it makes Hawaiian music so classy,” says Helm, who is currently wrapping up a tour in Tacoma, Wash., with Keola Beamer. “I know a lot of folks, especially on the West Coast, have a great appreciation for Hawaiian music, and they always come out and are very supportive.”
Through her musical prowess and dedication to Hawaiian culture, Helm also has received a $20,000 Fellowship In Music grant from Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, which focuses on and is dedicated to revitalizing indigenous cultures including Native Americans, Eskimos and Native Hawaiians.
She also still performs in many benefit concerts for charities including Maui United Way, and Aloha Medical Mission, which offers free health care to underserved communities in many South Pacific and Asian regions.
“I’m trying to create my own path of giving back,” adds Helm, who has been nominated for 2012 Na Hoku Hanohono awards Female Vocalist of the Year and Island Music Album of the Year. On May 28, the day after the Na Hoku Hanohano awards ceremonies, Helm will perform at the 14th annual Lantern Floating at Magic Island starting at 6 p.m.