Female Hawaiian singers are something of an acquired taste. The traditional yodelling and vocal ululations aren’t the most commercial sounds in the world. But Paula Fuga has a voice that is set to do for female Hawaiian performers what Israel Kamakawiwo’ole did for the guys.
After a thankfully unsuccessful shot at American Idol, she joined up with Hawaiian reggae band Dubkonscious before releasing her debut solo album Lilikoi. She’s attracted the attention of some big hitters; collaborating with Jack Johnson (you can hear the song on her MySpace) and has impressed the likes of India.Arie and Jason Mraz.
The album gets a bit too Jawaiian for my tastes, but this acoustic session for KTUH blew me away. She blends her Southern Soul vocals with Hawaiian and Jamaican sounds without sounding like self-conscious fusion. She slips between singing in English and Hawaiian so naturally you’d barely notice. And the minimal accompaniment showcases her magnificent voice.
The standout track of both the album and session is Lilikoi (named after a type of passion fruit)). The song throws a little flamenco into the mix with this nifty little intro:
The chords are Em and B7 throughout.
I can’t wait until she records a whole album acoustically (fingers crossed).