The song “Hawai’i 78”, has been recorded by many artist from Hawai’i and also performed by non-Hawaiian artists. Hawai’i 78 undoubtedly was made popular by the Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Lyrics of the song send a powerful message in righteousness, but the chorus to the song are not the original written lyrics.
AND NOW, JUST FOR THE RECORD… THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE WRITING OF THE SONG “Hawaii ‘78”, ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL AND INFLUENTIAL SONGS OF THE LAST HALF CENTURY, MADE POPULAR BY BRADDAH IZ AND THE MAKAHA SONS. ~ Kawika Crowley
This is the story, the true story and intent behind the song and lyrics of Hawai’i 78 as told by Kawika Crowley.
According to Kawika, Hawai’i 78 was written by four people: Micky Ioane, Abe Keala, Cleyton Kua, and Kawika Crowley in October 1976. One evening in Waiakea Uka, Hilo Kawika Crowley gets a visit from friend Cleyton Kua. Knowing Crowley was looking for new artists for his record label Kawika Records, Kua tells him of an upcoming artist named Micky Ioane. The very next night Cleyton and Crowley visited Ioane at his home in Keaukaha. In a home full of family and friends Ioane started playing music and singing. Crowley was impressed, overwhelmed by one verse, of an incomplete song that was so moving and full of energy. “Micky you have written the beginnings of a classic, but it’s not complete… it needs a chorus”, said Crowley. Ioane smiled, nodding his head graciously agreeing to singing it again and recording it to cassette tape.
That same night Crowley goes home with the cassette recording and in less than 20 minutes writes the chorus to the powerful lyrics, “How would they feel” lines. Two weeks later Micky and brother Randy Ioane accompanied by other local musicians were in Crowley’s studio recording the song intended to be a vinyl “45” single release. The song was entitled “Hawai’i 77” and distributed to radio stations throughout Hawai’i on January 1st. Unfortunately, there was very little air play and the song faded out of the forefront. In the summer of 1977 Mikey Ioane and Abe Keala came up with a new addition to the Hawai’i 77 song. “Ua mau ke’ea oka aina” line lyrics were added.
At a concert in Kohala, the group Da Blahlas sang the touching song. In a bizarre twist of fate, an up and coming group opened for the Da Blahlas. The group went by the name of The Makaha Sons (of Ni’ihau). Bass player Mel Amina was impressed with the song. He convinced his band members to perform the song. In 1978 the song that would touch so many of us for generations to come was released under a new name, Hawaii ’78. The rest… of course, is history.
Somehow lyrics to the chorus were changed, recorded differently than originally written. The original lyrics by Kawika Crowley makes more sense and fits the message of the song better.
Makaha Sons & Braddah Iz chorus version:
How, would they feel, would their smiles be content, then cry
Cry for the gods, cry for the people
Cry for the land that was taken away
And then yet you’ll find, Hawai’i
Original Kawika Crowley chorus version:
How would they feel, would they smile, be content, or just cry
Cry for the Gods, cry for the people
Cry for the land that was taken all away
And then bid goodbye, Hawai’i
Produced by: Kawika Records – Hilo, Hi – 1977
Original performers: The Ioane Brothers
Original Song Writers: Mickey Ioane, Abe Keala, Cleyton Kua and Kawika Crowley