Owana Salazar

Steve Murray
Wednesday - July 27, 2005
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It would seem that the biggest thing to happen in the life of Owana Salazar since she appeared in MidWeek in 1998 is that she is getting ready to walk down the aisle. Also keeping her busy are a successful recording career, live performances in Hawaii, Tahiti and the Mainland, and two Hoku Hanohano Awards. Not bad.

“Winning for Best Jazz Recording was very nice, and it was even more thrilling to be nominated in six categories for Hula Jazz,” she says.

Hula Jazz, her latest release, is the CD she’s been waiting to record since she attended a concert in the late 1980s.

“It was just Herbie Hancock and a grand piano. He just flowed seamlessly between jazz piano and classical piano. Back and forth. And I sat there and I went, yes! Since Hawaiian has classics, why not Hawaiian jazz classic? I knew it would work. This had been an idea mulling in my head for a long time. And I finally got it out. It’s one of these creative things that just runs around in your soul until you get them out.” She says that having the opportunity to play with Betty Loo Taylor and Danny Otholt during that same time reinforced what she was looking to do.

Prior to producing what she calls Nahenahe Jazz, Salazar was fortunate to enjoy some pretty big gigs on the Mainland with some pretty steep talent. In 2000 she became the first woman to tour with the Hawaiian Slack Key Festival that included Keoki Kahumoku, Daniel Ho and George Kahumoku Jr. The tour provided her the opportunity to perform in concert halls and performing arts theatres in New York, Chicago and other large cities.

She followed that up with a concert for the highly regarded Prairie Home Companion in Minneapolis.

“It’s quite an incredible show. Of course Ledward (Ka‘apana) is the real star. I was just the fortunate one who got to go on that tour with him. He is the grand master. I was traveling with the best and I consider myself so, so fortunate.”

Salazar can be found performing mostly aboard the Alii Kai Catamaran. On July 29 she’ll lend her talent to the Hawaii International Jazz Festival at the Hawaii Theatre, and Aug. 16 she will play in the Hawaiian Slack Key Masters Concert Series at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, which is hosted every Tuesday by George Kahumoku Jr.

“It’s a very relaxed, down home good music venue. People go there and they know they have touched part of Hawaii’s heart from slack key music.”

Salazar says her future plans pretty much reflect what she has done in the past — playing great music with good friends while trying to find other ways to intertwine the music that interests her. Stay tuned.

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