Two Kauaians join megastars for Grammys

On Wednesday morning, Paul Togioka was still on Kaua‘i picking up his tuxedo. All black with a red vest, he got it to match his wife’s black dress with red flowers.

“It’s like the ultimate high school prom,” he said. “I went online to the Grammy site to check out the way they dress and they’re all dressed up. Even the guys that just sit in the audience dress up.”

When he first heard that the compilation album he contributed to, “Hawaiian Slack Key Kings,” was nominated for a Grammy for the Best Hawaiian Music Album, he was pretty happy. Now, he’s flat out thrilled he’s going to be a part of the music industry’s biggest night for the first time.

“At first, I didn’t think that much of it,” Togioka said. “But now I’m really excited.”

Togioka and the rest of the musicians from “Hawaiian Slack Key Kings,” Makana, Chris and Milton Lau are currently in California — Togioka left yesterday morning — are gearing up for the Grammys.

“Milton’s got some promotions set up for us to do while we’re there so he told me to bring my guitar,” Togioka said. “It’s interesting. I started this just for fun. Now it’s just been so great and that’s thanks to the support of all the people of Kaua‘i.”

Togioka is excited to see all the megastars attending and performing at the show.

“I’m just going to enjoy this because this may be the last time I get to go to this,” he said. “I want to wish Henry Kapono and Amy luck. They’re very deserving of it.”

Amy Hanaiali‘i Gilliom, Kaua‘i’s other representative, will be making her second appearance at the Grammys. She was nominated once before with Willie K. for “Amy and Willie K Live!”

This time, she’s nominated in the Best Hawaiian Music Album for “Generation Hawai‘i.”

She got an early start with her California promotions. She had a performance at the Borders Books and Music in Montclair, Calif., performed last night at a Borders at the South Coast Plaza and will perform tomorrow at the Borders in Manhattan Beach.

This is Gilliom’s first solo nomination. She is also the only female nominated for an album in the Best Hawaiian Music Album category.

“I think for right now this is kind of opening the doors for us,” Gilliom said. “Hopefully this will kind of act like a stepping stone to break out into another category. It’s kind of hard for vocalists to compete against slack key guitarists, but for now, this is the way it is.”

Even so, she’s still proud of the category and Hawaiian music.

“It’s very ‘ohana over here,” she said. “I’m very supportive of the slack key guitarists. They’ve all played on my albums, Ledward Kaapana and everyone. We’re all rooting for each other.”

Gilliom said she looks forward to seeing the performances at the show.

“Last time when I went, I liked Bonnie Raitt,” she said. “Out of all the glitz and glamour of the show, she just came out with her guitar and I loved that.”

Gilliom will be wearing a black, Calvin Klein dress and will be draped with white ginger lei that she had shipped in from Hawai‘i.

Both Togioka and Gilliom will attend the pre-Grammy parties and events with the other Hawaiian music nominees.

The Grammy Awards air Sunday at 7 p.m. on CBS.


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