Keola Beamer is “The Quintessential Hawaiian Slack-Key Guitar Master.” —The New York Times
“Kapono is one of the great island songwriters of his generation.” —Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Keola Beamer, one of Hawai’i’s premier singer-songwriters, arrangers, composers and guitar masters, helped launch the ’70s statewide revival of slack-key guitar, and released top-selling Honolulu City Lights.
Henry Kapono, a Grammy®-nominated and awardwinning singer and songwriter, forged the sound of ’70s Hawaiian music as part of the wildly popular, laidback contemporary rock of C&K. Together, they have continued to lead the way for over four decades.
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Keola Beamer is one of Hawai'i's premier singer/songwriters, arrangers, composers and Master Of The Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. His well of talent springs from five generations of Hawai's most illustrious and beloved musical families. The Beamers trace their roots to the 14th century; among their ancestors are Queen Ahiakumai Ki'eki'e and Ho'olulu, a child of the favored wife of Kamehameha I.
Born in 1951, Keolamaikalani Breckenridge Beamer was raised in Kamuela, on the Big Island, surrounded by the beautiful open pastures of his Grandfather's cattle ranch.
Keola established himself early on as the family's youngest standard-bearer. A child of the rock and roll era, he has always been on the vanguard of the Hawaiian contemporary sound. However, he also helped drive what has come to be known today as the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance: he has recorded many of the songs written by his ancestors, from the lively Keawaiki to the lullaby Pupu Hinuhinu. He has recorded and produced more than twenty albums, winning numerous Hoku Awards, Hawai'i's equivalent of the Grammies. He has even appeared on Sesame Street and on NBC's "Today Show." He is a Grammy Nominee and in 2010 received the "Lifetime Achievement" award from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts in Honolulu, Hawai'i.
Keola was one of Hawai'i's first recording artists to integrate Hawaiian chants and instruments, like the tiny gourd whistle and the nose flute, with contemporary forms of music. "A lot of musicians in the past treated the nose flute as a frame," he says. "They played it at the beginning and the end of a piece. Through experimentation, I managed to integrate it into the piece. It has a gorgeous sound, a gorgeous texture."
Keola's legendary great-grandmother, Helen Desha Beamer (1882-1952), was one of Hawai'i's most prolific and accomplished singer-songwriters, whose compositions came to her in dreams, on boat rides, and during visits with friends. Possessed of a high, clear soprano, her fluency in the Hawaiian language endowed her with lyrics with vivid images. She was also a skilled dancer whose intricate footwork and fluid grace left a lasting imprint on the hula.
Keola's mother, revered cultural treasure, Winona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Beamer, (Aunty Nona, 1923 - 2008) was also a noted chanter, composer, Kumu Hula (Hula Master) and author, who had spent a lifetime researching and teaching "Hawaiiana," a term she coined. Indeed, Keola's career as a musician began in his mother's Honolulu hula studio, where he played guitar as an accompaniment for the dancers. "That's part of being in the Beamer family - your job is as a musician," he says. Then he adds with a laugh: "And my mom is the only person who ever fired me!"
In high school and college, Keola studied classical guitar, and later, when he began to teach guitar, he published the first ever, method book for the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, using a tablature system for 16th-century lutes as his starting point. At about the same time, in 1972, he recorded his first landmark solo album, "Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in the Real Old Style," filled with the nahenahe (soft and sweet) sound of this Hawaiian tradition. This album and method book (now online at kbeamer.com) continues to influence many guitarists.
Keola in combination with the Beamer Ohana (Family) Non Profit Corporation - The Mohala Hou Foundation conducts genuine cultural immersion experiences through their bi-annual "Aloha Music Camp" held at the Keauhou Beach Resort in Kailua, Kona during the months of February and July. These week long immersions instruct musicians and non musicians in the art of the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, Ukulele, Hula, Olelo Hawai'i (Hawaiian Language) and Oli (Chant). For many people, this is a life changing experience, as the contextual learning of the immersion experience is presented with the true sincerity and clarity of Aloha. "Our guests are not tourists"' says Keola. "They are our extended family".
Keola shares the following artistic statement, as it relates to his stage performances "When I was growing up, my mother Winona Beamer would often say, Malama Ko Aloha. Mom wanted us to cherish or keep our love. Her idea was that by keeping Aloha in our hearts and reflecting upon its meaning in our lives, we could help the idea of Aloha to grow in the world. Thanks to my mother, Aloha became much more than a word to me. It became a way of being in the world.
It is not easy to follow the path of Aloha. When we are angry or frustrated, Aloha can be forgotten. Sometimes in difficult situations, we may even take a step backwards from Aloha. If we remember my mom’s advice, “Malama Ko Aloha”, we can gather our courage, take a deep breath and try again. We can endeavor to live our lives with compassion for other human beings. We can live our lives embracing the ideas of diversity, harmony, and peace.
Hawaiian philosophical thought suggests that within each of us, there exists a bowl of light. It is our sincere hope that as we share our music with you, we might each take a moment to explore this light. We believe it is the presence of Aloha.
And then ask yourself ... will you Malama Ko Aloha? Will you help us keep Aloha alive in the world?"
Henry Kapono Ka'aihue is an award winning and Grammy nominated singer/songwriter. He has taken home numerous Na Hoku Hano Hano Awards (Hawaii's equivalent of the Grammy's) including Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, Single of the Year, and Album of the Year. He is also the author of the award winning children's book, A Beautiful Hawaiian Day, has appeared in the films, Damien and Waterworld and has made many television appearances. Known as "Kapono", the Hawaiian word for righteous, Henry was christened "Henry Kapono Hosea Ka'aihue" and is a pure Hawaiian born and raised in Kapahulu, a small town located just outside Waikiki, Hawaii.
Although Henry has had no formal musical training, he started singing in a children's church choir at the young age of 5. "I was, and still am, a very shy person, but I loved singing especially in a choral situation," says Henry. "My Dad taught me how to play the ukulele. He would come home from work and sit in his easy chair and play the coolest stuff. I saw a friend of mine play a guitar one day and fell in love with the sound of it. He taught me a few chords and I've been hooked ever since. After that, I taught myself how to play by listening to records, radio and watching other guitarists play."
Henry's athletic abilities earned him a baseball scholarship to the highly regarded Punahou Academy in Honolulu. After high school he earned a football scholarship to the University of Hawaii with dreams of being a professional football player. Although injuries prevented him from fulfilling his dream as a football player, in a profound way it moved him toward his passion for music and allowed him to fully realize his potential as an artist.
Henry's professional career started as a solo artist in little joints around Waikiki. This led to a short stint playing rock in a local island group called "Pakalolo." The group played the islands and the far east where a defunct tour company left them stranded in Vietnam. Putting their situation and talents to good use, the group performed for the troops at fire bases throughout Vietnam and eventually made their way to Thailand. The 2 years that Henry spent overseas turned out to be a personal and professional odyssey that profoundly affected his music, his appreciation of life and his love of all people.
Returning to Hawaii, Henry's career kicked off in a big way. Forming a collaboration with Cecilio Rodriguez, from California, the duo, known as "Cecilio & Kapono" became an instant phenomenon that took Hawaii by storm. Blending together their distinctive and individual talents, they gave contemporary and folk rock a new perspective. Within eight months Cecilio & Kapono had a recording contract with Columbia Records, a first for a Hawaii group, crowning them the largest recording artists to come out of Hawaii.
Continually evolving, in 1981 Henry pursued a solo career with the extremely successful release of "Kapono - Stand in the Light." Since then he has created an incredibly broad range of musical expressions through 17 solo albums to date.
Kapono has become a household name throughout Hawaii and the Pacific. His music has taken him all over the world and his fan base is very diverse. His musical journey has been a very Bohemic collage of innovation and creativity continually evolving in a way that very few artists are able to sustain. His influences, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Sting and Stevie Wonder, to name a few, are reflected in his musical tapestry that is exclusively Kapono. His music transcends his Hawaiian Heritage which he prides so much and embodies the spirit of Aloha that he has for all people.
Henry has the gift that most great artist share: The ability to enable us to gaze upon their painting or ponder their work or listen to their music and find new meaning and purpose in our lives. Henry touches the soul with the simple honesty of his lyrics and music, and the gift of an evocative, plaintive balladeer's voice that haunts you long after he leaves the stage.
Moanalani Beamer -Kumu Hula (Hula Master)
Moanalani began her hula training in 1960 at the age four with Kumu Hula, Johnny Hokoana. In her early years, she continued training extensively with several different Kumu in Hawaii. Her primary source of inspiration was the famed Kumu Hula, Robert Kalani. After making her professional debut, Moanalani starred in the main revues of several prestigious hotels and resorts on the island of Maui. Her professional experience includes tenures with the shows of George Paoa, Jessie Nakooka, The Ohana Revue, Nephi Hanneman and Here is Hawaii (produced by Keola Beamer and one of the most successful Hawaiian Shows in the history of the genre).
Winona Kapualilohia Beamer, noted elder, culture historian, and mother of her husband, Keola, has been Moana's treasured mentor and teacher over the last two decades. Since 2004, Moanalani has been a member of Maui Halau, Na Hanona Kulike O Pi'ilani, under the direction of Kumu Sissy Lake-Farm and Kumu Kapono'ai Molitau and in January of 2011 was offered an opportunity to participate in the preparation and training process known as 'Uniki as a member of Na Hanona Ku Like O Pi'ilani. On October 22nd 2011, Moana successfully completed the year long process of 'Uniki and received her designation as Kumu Hula.
Through the years Moana has accumulated valuable teaching experience in the art of the Hula. Her sensitive nature combines her understanding of the technique with the spiritual and philosophical currents expressed in the Hula. Moana remains firmly committed to sharing her cultural knowledge worldwide. She has traveled to Europe to co-teach several workshops on Movement and Hawaiian Dance with renown German movement teacher Dorothea Jollenbeck and has also traveled annually to Japan to teach hula workshops.
Moana has expanded her role in Keola's performances. She dances, chants, sings background vocals, and plays several ancient Hawaiian percussive instruments, including `ili`ili, ka`eke`eke and Ipu. Much of Moana's year is spent dancing, chanting, talking story, and providing percussive interludes on tour with her husband Keola. Together they present a complete sensory experience of Hawaiian music and dance.