APRIL 28, 2014


Dennis David Kahekilimamaoikalanikeha Kamakahi was born on March 31, 1953, in Honolulu.  His father and paternal grandfather both played guitar in the slack-key style.  At age 19, Dennis was invited by the ukulele player Eddie Kamae to join the Sons of Hawai‘i, the musical group most indelibly associated with the Hawaiian renaissance, filling the spot vacated by the slack-key master Gabby Pahinui [see October 13].  He soon became a budding songwriter writing primarily in the Hawaiian language and apprenticed with one of its chief scholars, Mary Kawena Pukui [see April 20].  Though Hawaiian in character, his songs were often infused with elements of the blues or of folk music.  Of roughly 500 songs that he composed, many have become beloved Hawaiian standards, including Wahine ‘Ilikea, Pua Hone, and Koke‘e.  He won three Grammy Awards and, with son David, a singer and ukulele player, he appeared on the soundtrack of the film The Descendants, starring George Clooney.  He died in Honolulu.

Source:  Nate Chinen, “Dennis Kamakahi, 61, Hawaiian Guitarist and Composer, Dies,” New York Times, 5/1/2014.  Retrieved 6/28/2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/01/arts/music/dennis-kamakahi-hawaiian-renaissance-songwriter-dies-at-61.html
Photo:  Naukilo, 5/29/2012.  Rev. Dennis Kamakahi at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards 2012.  Permissive Use pursuant to Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

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