Eddie Kamae, a musch-respected icon in the Hawaiian music scene, continues to do what he loves most - making music from the heart. In fact, he along with his band The Sons of Hawaii recently released a new album titled Yesterday & Today Volume 2. Commemorating a 50-year milestone with The Sons of Hawaii, the album features a variety of music styles, from classic to Hawaiian swing, that span the scope of time. “These songs have been compiled for years, but I never got around to producing them till now,” says Kamae, 82 and going strong. “We go back in time with some of the songs and it brings back fond memories.”
As an ukulele virtuoso, singer, composer and filmmaker, Kamae is considered a primary proponent in the Hawaiian cultural renaissance. When The Sons of Hawaii were founded in the 1960s by Kamae and renowned slack-key guitarist Gabby Pahinui, they soon became known for their authenticity of song choice, many of which surfaced during Kamae’s intense research into the archives of long-neglected melodies and lyrics, and the journey into the lives of Hawaii’s people.
“All my music comes from my heart,” he says with a smile in his voice. “It’s a passion. I do it for the children - everything I do is for them. I sing for them because I know it will live on forever, for generations to come.”
Kamae last appeared on MidWeek‘s cover in February 2008 (the first was in June 1989) and throughout his career has changed the ways of Hawaiian music for the better. For instance, he helped take the ukulele from its role as an anonymous member of the rhythm section to its current role as a solo and lead instrument.
Then in the 1980s, while continuing to lead The Sons of Hawaii, Kamae perfected his craft as a filmmaker and documented the lives, stories and faces of many older Hawaiians he had met along the way, specifically concentrating on Hawaiian musical and cultural tradition.
“My favorite of the films is LI`A: The Legacy of Hawaiian Man (1988). During the filming I was looking for mist in the waterfall in Waipio, and we were able to get the perfect shot,” Kamae shares.
As Kamae reaches another career milestone, we mustn’t forget the many awards and honorary achievements he’s received along the way, including Lifetime Achievement awards from Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, the Hawaii State Legislature, the Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists, the Bishop Museum and the Ukulele Hall of Fame, to name a few.
“I love what I’m doing - it’s always fun and exciting. My work keeps me young,” Kamae laughs.
You can find Kamae performing live at the Waikiki Elk’s Club every Tuesday (4 to 6 p.m.) and Friday (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.). His newest album is available in stores now.
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