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A Canadian man amasses a huge collection of Hawaiian music

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A man in Canada amassed almost 10,000 recordings of one particular type of music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALOHA ʻOE")

INSKEEP: His album collection was almost entirely Hawaiian music.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

And the whole thing recently made the 4,600-mile journey from Canada to the Hawaii State Archives. Hawaii Public Radio's program The Conversation talked to their head archivist Adam Jansen.

ADAM JANSEN: The Michael Scott Hawaiian music collection became available with his unfortunate passing. And his son had tracked us down and said, my father has spent, you know, his entire lifetime collecting Hawaiian music. And in his will, he said it has to go someplace where it can be made accessible to the public.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALOHA ʻOE")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in Hawaiian).

INSKEEP: Moving boxes and boxes of albums was a challenge. They arrived in December. No albums were harmed in transit, we're told. And Adam Jansen has been poring over the collection ever since, making new discoveries all the time.

JANSEN: The oldest record I've been able to locate thus far is 1903.

INSKEEP: Which was only a few decades into the era of the phonograph - here's music historian Kilin Reece.

KILIN REECE: Hawaiians were at the leading edge of the recording industry. Thomas Edison and King Kalakaua were friends. They met up in 1881 on the king's circumnavigation of the globe. As early as 1899, Royal Hawaiian string bands were recording a style of music that really would herald the birth of jazz, blues, country, Western swing, rock 'n' roll a half century before any of those styles had started to take shape.

MARTINEZ: Here's one piece from the collection from 1913.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KAWILIWILIWAI")

WBJ AEKO: (Singing in Hawaiian).

MARTINEZ: Adam Jansen expects the archives to spend a year or two just organizing before they can begin digitizing the 10,000-piece collection.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KAWILIWILIWAI")

AEKO: (Singing in Hawaiian). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.