Poina 'Ole 'Ia took almost two years to complete.
The original concept for the CD, developed in the fall of 2010, was to be a double album with twenty or more selections. This was later revised to an album with a single CD of a dozen songs that were special to Gary. Many of the songs are Gary's favorites, and visitors to the weekly Keawe 'Ohana show at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa's Moana Terrace have heard Gary sing some of the album's selections at one time or another. Once the final twelve selections were identified, musical arrangements were created.
Steel guitar master and steel guitarist for the Keawe 'Ohana, Alan Akaka, created the musical arrangements for the CD. Alan Akaka and The Islanders, comprising Alan, Gary and Patrick "Kaipo" Asing, provided backup music and vocals. Two special guest artists appeared on the CD at Gary's request: neice Pomaika'i Keawe Lyman duets with Gary on "E Maliu Mai" and brother Eric Keawe solos on one of their mom's favorite songs: Stevie Wonder's "Lately". The final selections offer a variety of music covering many genres, from traditional Hawaiian songs to Broadway, from slow, romantic ballads to the upbeat and humorous.
Recording was done in multiple sessions, using the facilities of Greg Sardinha's Sma' Kine Recording Studio with Greg as recording engineer. Some songs experienced several iterations of arrangements before a final version was arrived at. Recording was completed during the middle of 2011. Lynn Cook architected the CD's liner notes and CD album graphics were designed by Stacey Leong Design. The mechanics of assembling the final product—the album graphics layout, liner notes, and track notes—required more time than originally anticipated and it wasn't until summer of 2012 that the album elements were finalized. Photography of the album cover was then scheduled so that photographed elements could complement the album's presentation. Photography by Arna Johnson was then completed.
The ultimate goal was an album that would satisfy Gary and the entire production team, and with the release of "Poina 'Ole 'Ia" that goal has been realized.