Ray Kinney And His Coral Islanders With The Mullen Sisters: Song Of The Islands And Other Hawaiian Favorites
His performing career spanning across seven decades, Ray Kinney (1900-1971) enthralled audiences with a soft, articulated tenor voice reflecting his father’s Irish ancestry. His range was seemingly limitless, capable of hitting bass notes and shifting from his trademark tenor into high falsettos. Playing his own ukulele and supported by lively dance band arrangements, Kinney’s music reflected the syncopation of the swing era but never lost focus on its Hawaiian roots.
After two decades touring Hawaii and the American West, the Honolulu native gained a national following in 1935 after joining the radio series Hawaii Calls and signing with Decca Records the following year. After an eleven-month residency in San Francisco’s Palace Hotel, Kinney and His Coral Islanders opened the popular Hawaiian Room in New York’s Hotel Lexington in 1938. After a four-year residency there, Kinney and his band toured U.S. military bases and clubs during World War II.
Resuming his recording career in New York after the war, Kinney recorded eight Hawaiian standards backed by his regular steel player Sammy Makia, guitarist John Nakulakamano, and bassist Venancio Pineda. The group was augmented by three New York clarinetists, pianist Seymour Greenberg and George Forsythe on uke. The backing vocalists were the Mullen Sisters, a Missouri quartet then featured on NBC’s Your Hit Parade. Released in June 1947, Song of The Islands and Other Hawaiian Favorites was an immediate success. When the 78 rpm album era ended, its songs quickly resurfaced on EP and LP reissues.
His vocal abilities undiminished with age, Kinney continued to tour and record into the early seventies.
Camden, Indiana September 2019
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