Born in Honolulu, Hawai’i, her ancestors included Ahiakumai Ki’eki’e, Queen of the island of Hawai’i and daughter of Kameiamoku, the favored wife of Kamehameha I.  Her love of music started at an early age and she became an accomplished musician, singer and composer.  Helen was gifted with a high, clear soprano of a coloratura range.  She taught herself musical notation by copying reams of piano and vocal music.  Her fluency in the Hawaiian language enabled her to compose lyrics which created vivid pictures of the places and people in her songs.  She made several recordings for Columbia Records, including the first commercial recording of Ke Kali Nei Au (The Hawaiian Wedding Song).  She also taught the mele and hula of Hawai’i and shared her love of music which influenced her five children, all of whom became talented musicians, singers, composers and dancers.  Helen passed away September 15, 1952, in San Mateo, California.  She was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 1995.

Sources: “Beamer, Helen Desha: Composer Biography,” Hawaiian Music Collection.  Retrieved 7/12/2019,
Photo:  Author unknown.  Date:  Likely pre-1925.  Likely Public Domain in U.S.:  Pre 1/1/1925.  Likely Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less. Possibly Fair use as only source for this photo, the author, is unknown and the subject is deceased.

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