It's been a memorable year for Brittni Paiva. The young Big Island musician won two Na Hoku Hanohano awards in July for her latest album, "Tell U What," and had the honor of performing onstage with Carlos Santana at the Blaisdell Arena in February.
Scheduled to return to our island Sunday to play at the 8th annual Maui Ukulele Festival at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Paiva reports she was pleasantly surprised to win Na Hokus for Ukulele Album of the Year and Instrumental Composition of the Year for the album's funky title track.
"It was crazy; I didn't expect to win two awards," says Paiva. "I go to the awards expecting only to see friends, so it was incredible to win."
Her most ambitious, polished work to date, "Tell U What," finds this female ukulele virtuoso working with music legends including saxophonist Tom Scott, Michael McDonald, trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and guitarist Ray Parker Jr. on an impressive collection of primarily jazz-influenced tunes.
Scott, who has played with many greats including Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Carole King, was so impressed with Paiva's ukulele playing that he suggested they collaborate on an album.
"While performing in Hawaii, a young lady sat in with my band - on ukulele," Scott wrote in the CD's liner notes. "The performance she gave that day was truly stunning. She knew how to make that instrument 'sing' in a way I had never heard. I was totally hooked."
* Brittni Paiva is among the many artists featured at the free 8th annual Maui Ukulele Festival on Sunday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Performers include Herb Ohta San and Nando Suan, Richard Ho'opi'i, Willie K, Paula Fuga, Kamakakehau Fernandez, the Hula Honeys, Derick Sebastian, Aidan James, Tamlyn Tamura, Nelly and Daniel Baduria, Nick Acosta, Andrew Molina, the Kalama Intermediate School 'Ukulele Band under the direction of Benny Uyetake, and Seabury Hall's Hawaiian Ensemble led by instructor Jon Toda. There will also be hula with kumu Napua Greig and Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka. Renowned ukulele teacher Roy Sakuma will serve as emcee. Door prizes will be given, including more than a dozen finely-crafted ukulele. There will be Hawaiian arts and crafts displays; and food and beverages will be available for purchase. No outside food, beverages and coolers allowed. For details, call 242-7469 or visit www.mauiarts.org
"I met Tom a couple of years ago at the Lanai Jazz Festival," Paiva explains. "We talked about possible collaborations in the future, and we both decided it might be cool to do a jazz album for ukulele. It was something I've always wanted to do. It was a really good experience to work with him because he forced me to think musically in a way I had never thought before, taking things out of the box a bit."
A wide range of material features funky, grooving numbers like the early '60s jazz hit "Comin' Home Baby" and Eddie Harris' "Cold Duck Time," the pop standard "A Taste of Honey," a couple of smooth originals, and Michael McDonald accompanying Paiva on a new version of his soulful hit, "I Keep Forgettin'."
A fan of the humble ukulele, McDonald offered his services after hearing Paiva play in concert. "I met him on Maui when he came to one of the performances Tom and I did," she says. "He told Tom, if he ever wanted his voice on any project to let him know. I was very honored; he's so cool."
A gifted multi-instrumentalist, Paiva also played bass on some tracks including the reggae-flavored Bela Fleck tune, "The Lochs of Dread." "For a long time, I've wanted to become proficient on many instruments," she notes.
Since recording her first album at the age of 15, Paiva has matured into a remarkable musician, fluent in many genres. Like Jake Shimabukuro, she is showing the world how versatile the ukulele can be.
"I'm planning to continue to take the ukulele out of the comfort zone and experiment more," she reports. "You grow up in Hawaii playing Hawaiian music, and then you go to the Mainland and people are playing so many different genres of music with it. I want to take the ukulele even further."
Having previously impressed leading musicians like Scott and McDonald, Paiva was amazed when rock guitar legend Santana invited her to join him onstage in Honolulu to perform his classic instrumental "Samba Pa Ti."
"It was the most nerve-wracking moment of my life," she says, laughing. "I had brought my new uke with me and I wanted to take a picture of him holding it. Backstage he asked me to play a song and I played 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow,' and I told him I play a couple of his songs. So he asked me to play 'Samba Pa Ti' for him, and afterwards he said, 'Would you like to join us onstage tonight?' I couldn't say no. I really appreciated how much he let me take the spotlight onstage. It was really motivating for me. It gave me the confirmation that what I'm doing is the right thing."
In conjunction with the ukulele festival, a free ukulele workshop for all ages will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the McCoy Studio Theater. Conducted by Roy and Kathy Sakuma, lessons are designed for beginning and intermediate players. The only requirements are that participants can hold C, F and G7 chords. Students should bring ukulele, notepaper and a pencil. All participants will be eligible to enter a drawing to win a ukulele.
Acclaimed Hawaiian musician George Kahumoku Jr.'s weekly "Masters of Hawaiian Music" show will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a special expanded show at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Napili Kai Beach Resort's Aloha Pavilion. Hosted by the Grammy-winning slack-key guitarist, this anniversary evening will include regulars Da Ukulele Boyz (Peter deAquino and Garrett Probst); Sterling Seaton on guitar; and Wainani Kealoha performing hula.
Special guests include multi-award-winning musicians Dennis Kamakahi and Richard Ho'opi'i, and performing for the first time at the show guitarist/falsetto singer Chino Montero and the duo of Gabe and Austin.
Close to 100,000 people have seen more than 500 weekly performances; "Masters of Hawaiian Music" is one of the longest-running music shows in island history. Participating artists have included many of the most notable performers of traditional Hawaiian music. Live recordings from the show have earned four Grammy Awards. It was founded 10 years ago by Kahumoku Jr., Wayne Wong and Paul Konwiser.
* "Masters of Hawaiian Music" reservations are suggested; seating is limited. Tickets are available online at www.SlackKeyShow.com or call 669-3858. Preshow dinner at the resort's Sea House with show package is also available. Anniversary cake and refreshments will be served.
Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "one of the important and original new jazz singers of the decade," Filipino-American musician Charmaine Clamor will perform in Castle Theater at 7:30 tonight.
Known as the "Queen of Jazzipino," Clamor sings in both English and Tagalog, a range of songs from traditional jazz and pop covers like a jazzy version of U2's "With or Without You," to traditional folksongs of the Philippines.
"Jazzipino is the new musical genre that results from melding traditional Filipino melodies, languages and instruments with the soul and swing of American jazz," she says.
A Jazz Times review praised: "Clamor vocally resembles an amalgam of Nancy Wilson and Lena Horne, a sumptuously elegant blend of silk and satin, trimmed with gutsy self-possession."
Her recent credits include a command performance in 2011 at Manila's Malacanang Palace for United States ambassador Harry Thomas and Philippines president Benigno Aquino III. President Aquino joined Clamor onstage for a duet and declared her "a genuine source of Filipino pride."
And in 2010, Clamor was the only Filipina to appear on the David Byrne/Fatboy Slim concept album, "Here Lies Love," about the life of Imelda Marcos. Other artists on the recording included Cyndi Lauper, Natalie Merchant, Santigold and Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.
* Charmaine Clamor performs tonight at 7:30 in the Castle Theater. Tickets are $12, $32 and $42, and half price for kids 12 and younger, plus applicable fees.