Raiatea Helm - Hawaiian Blossom

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - June 29, 2007
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The 411

She is still the sweet and lovely young lady from Molokai who sparked the Hawaiian music scene back in 2003 when she took home two Na Hoku Hanohano awards for Best Female Vocalist and Most Promising Artist - she just blossomed a little.

The recent release of Raiatea Helm’s album, Hawaiian Blossom, features a more mature and refined Raiatea. The music reflects who she is and her voice tells the story of how she has grown. Change also comes in the transition of responsibility. Raiatea, who operates under her own label, has recently taken on a lot of the manager-type duties her parents once handled.

“My parents have been there from day one, but now I’m slowly going on my own and spreading my wings,” says the 22-year-old. “I’ve learned a lot about the business and my dad and mom have helped me with that.”

Hawaiian Blossom features original songs Poi ‘Awa’awa written by Puakea Nogelmeier, Lei Kukui written by Louis Moon Kauakahi, and Na Beauty O Kaua’i written by Tony Conjugacion. The album also features many Hawaiian classics that have found their way into Raiatea’s life.

“This third album is to show who I am versus the first and second album where I was trying to make a name for myself and just coming into the business,” says Raiatea. “This album states that I’m a young woman now - I’ve grown and I’ve learned so much. I’ve matured in my singing, and just being a better person and better artist.”

Raiatea is confident that this is her best album yet, which is a bold statement with her two previous albums winning a total of six Na Hoku Hanohano awards.

“I’m proud of all the songs because each song has its own story, and it all has its own special meaning to me,” says Raiatea. “I really like E Ku’u Tutu because that song hasn’t been done in a while. My idea in bringing out music is doing stuff that hasn’t been recorded or done in a long time. I like to make it my own and make it sound fresh.”

Q’n A

Raiatea Helm

What does your name (Raiatea) mean? And is there a story to why your parents gifted you with that name?

Oh yeah, my mom had several dreams when I was in her womb.My name is Tahitian.It is an island, it means far away heaven. They believe that the Hawaiians came from Raiatea. I was just there in April. My boyfriend and I went on a vacation to Tahiti. So we went to Raiatea because I have never been there. I always wanted to see what Raiatea was like.It was very interesting and unexpected.

If you could record with another local musician, with whom would you love to record?

That’s hard because I’ve already recorded with Keal’i (Reichel), Aunty Genoa (Keawe) and Robert (Cazimero). I don’t think you can get better than that. I mean Robert Cazimero, oh my goodness. I also had Uncle Ledward Ka’apana and Uncle Moon Kamakahi. But funny thing is I was supposed to do a collaboration with Uncle Don Ho and he passed away. I wanted to do a duet with him. He got really sick and it didn’t go through, so I was really bummed out.

What advice would you give to keiki who want to get into the music business?

Just do it. Don’t let people tell you otherwise. Just go with your own instincts. I always go by this phrase, “if you don’t reach for the stars, then what are the heavens for?” You always have to reach for the stars.

What has been the hardest musical obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Growing up. With this third album I’ve been through a lot just spreading my wings, because my dad has been my manager. And that’s been the hardest part - to just fly away from that and grow up. Everyone has to grow up and move on, but that’s OK. It’s OK.

Do you think having to grow up in the public eye has forced you to grow up rather quickly?

Well, yeah. There was a lot of pressure on me. But at the same time I’ve still got my kid in me, no matter what.

I was 16 when I entered the music business and people expected a lot from me. Like, who is this young girl coming from Molokai? I just want people to listen to my music and love my music. I don’t want to take credit for all I do because I don’t write my music. Even though I’m not a songwriter and I don’t know the language that well, I feel good when I sing. I just want people to respect me for what I do. I just do what I do, and I want to do it best that I can. I’m just a simple local girl from Molokai.

Do you see your voice as a gift, or it is something you have had to work hard on? Well, both. I had to work on it. I wanted it from day one and I’ve buckled down. I think it was a gift and I stuck with it, and I believed some day that I would make a difference. I don’t know. I think I’ve made it pretty far for a 22-year-old who started from nothing. I’m lucky and so fortunate.

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