A Hawaiian Evening with Two-Time Grammy Nominee

Raiatea Helm


feat. Grammy Award Winning Slack Key Guitarist Elmer “Sonny” Lim Jr.


Raiatea Mokihana Maile Helm is a Hawaiian vocalist who made history in 2006 as Hawai‘i’s first solo female vocalist ever to receive a Grammy Nomination. It was for her sophomore CD “Sweet and Lovely.”

At 21 years old, she was one of the youngest performers to attend the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California. It was a remarkable achievement when you consider that she comes from the tiny island of Moloka‘i, Hawai‘i, a mere wisp of volcanic land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Helm’s Grammy Nomination was a natural progression of her growth within the Hawaiian music community. Her debut recording, “Far Away Heaven,” captured the prestigious Female Vocalist of the Year and Most Promising Artist Awards from the 2003 Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Artists (HARA).

Helm continued her award-winning tradition two years later with the release of her second CD “Sweet and Lovely.” (Raiatea Helm Records).

At the 2005 HARA Awards ceremony, she was recognized again as Female Vocalist of the Year and also received the coveted Favorite Entertainer of the Year Award.

Helm has also proven herself to be as versatile as she is talented. Her rendition of the jazz classic “At Last” on “Sweet and Lovely” caused a buzz among many of the Hawaiian music industry’s singers, musicians, and producers.

Her jazz vocalization was so exceptional that Matt Catingub, the Grammy Award Winner for his saxophone performance on the sound track for “Good Night and Good Luck,” asked her to participate on his upcoming project.

Thus, in 2007, Raiatea recorded the wonderful jazz standard “My Romance” with the Matt Catingub Orchestra of Honolulu and received rave reviews.

On her third CD “Hawaiian Blossom,” Helm included the dreamy jazz ballad “Taking a Chance on Love.” There seems little doubt that a jazz CD is in her future, and perhaps, the unprecedented feat of a single female artist receiving Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in both the Hawaiian and Jazz music categories.

Raiatea Helm’s virtuoso recordings and performances have already launched her onto the international music scene with extensive concert appearances throughout Japan and Asia.

Domestically, she has appeared at venues stretching from New York City to San Francisco. Her appeal continues to flourish across all age groups and reaches across geographical boundaries as she collaborates with legends of Hawaiian music: The Brothers Cazimero, The Makaha Sons, Keali‘i Reichel, Ho‘okena, Auntie Genoa Keawe, and Ledward Ka‘apana.

Although still in her 20s, it is undeniable that Raiatea Mokihana Maile Helm will be a part of the national as well as international music scene for many years to come.

Elmer Lim Jr., better known as “SONNY” LIM, grew up playing ki ho’alu (slack key guitar) in the Kohala region of the Big Island where the style originated. Sonny’s father was a paniolo (cowboy) at Parker Ranch, where Sonny also worked for 23 years.

His introduction to ki ho’alu (slack key guitar) came as a child, when he was inspired by Gabby Pahinui while watching him perform at a lu’au in Kohala. Sonny’s biggest inspiration and influence came at age 12 from a well known slack key guitarist and family friend, Uncle Fred Punahoa. Punahoa took a keen interest in Sonny’s playing, and spent several weeks living with the Lim family in Kohala in order to teach him.

He was given a Steel Guitar as a youngster by Uncle Sonny Alapai of Pu’uanahulu and started to play it all the time. It led him to a professional career, playing the Steel Guitar with the Makaha Sons Of Ni’ihau from 1975 to 1978.

Over the past two decades Sonny has performed with virtually every “name” musician in Hawaii. He is a multiple Hoku award winner, performs regularly with his family in Hawaii and Japan, and performed on Hawaii’s first GRAMMY CD, “Slack Key Guitar Volume 2” (Palm Records).

Sonny helped to accept the inaugural Hawaiian Grammy Award with Grammy Award winning producer Charles Michael Brotman in 2005. Sonny’s speech was in Hawaiian – the first time ever that the Hawaiian language was spoken on the Grammy stage.

His first solo recording effort: “Slack Key Guitar -The Artistry of Sonny Lim” features nahenahe (gentle voice) solo guitar tracks that is a nice mix of Sonny Lim originals with some classics thrown in like “How D’ya Do (Andy Iona)” and a couple of Fred Punahoa virtuosic tunes.

Sonny was featured on our 2008 compilation CD: The Spirit of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar (2008 Daniel Ho Records) nominated for the 51st Annual GRAMMY Awards for Best Hawaiian Music Album and is again featured on the 2009 compilation CD: “Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Vol 2” which won for 52nd Annual Grammy Awards for Best Hawaiian Music Album.

THU 5/12, 7:30pm click to purchase tickets

click to purchase tickets

“[Raiatea Helm] inhabits her music, putting her falsetto imprint onto melodies and lyrics that others have sung before.” -The Honolulu Advertiser

Bookmark and Share