Eddie Kamae

Chris Fleck
Wednesday - November 02, 2011
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Photo courtesy Myrna Kamae

Eddie Kamae is certain in his words that everything he does is for the children. The distinguished singer, musician, composer, documentary director and author has been preserving and highlighting Hawaii’s historical culture and people for more than 60 years.

“Every day is so good to me. What I have learned is to do it all for the children, and I stress these points to the children of this generation so they can pass it on to generations to come,” says Kamae, who turned 84 this past August.

After years of playing classical, Latin and jazz tunes in the early 1950s, Kamae, who was on MidWeek‘s cover in February 2008, began to devote himself to traditional Hawaiian music, motivated by his father’s wish that he do so. As Kamae’s growth and awareness of Hawaiian music propelled, he met Gabby Pahinui, with whom, in dynamic symmetry, he created Sons of Hawaii.

In the 1980s with established success as a musician, Kamae found his second calling as a documentary filmmaker. It was through music that he found the sources for his films, which concentrate on the links between today’s Hawaii society and that of the pre-modern life of the 19th century. Kamae, with the help of wife Myrna, has traveled throughout the Hawaiian Islands shooting footage and conducting interviews for movie production. Some noteworthy movies produced by the husband-wife duo are 1998’s Hawaiian Voices: Bridging Past to Present, and LI’A: The Legacy of a Hawaiian Man produced in 1988. Currently Kamae is working on his 11th documentary, Feeding The Soul, which will be filmed in Kalaupapa, Volcano and Waianae.

Throughout his career Kamae has received numerous awards for his works in music and film. On Nov. 5 at Hilton Hawaiian Village, Kamae will be honored as the recipient of the 55th David Malo Award presented by the Rotary Club of West Honolulu. The David Malo Award is particularly important to Kamae, as Malo was highlighted in his film Lahaina: Waves of Change, and Kamae’s father and grandfather both graduated from Lahainaluna School on Maui, where Malo was one of the first graduates. Also, his mentor, Mary Kawena Pukui, was the first David Malo Award recipient in 1957.

“I am honored to receive this award. I do my work because I want to go on touching and doing all the things we need to do. I want to build schools and study films and talk to the children,” says Kamae. “That is my purpose.”

For more information about the continued work of Myrna and Eddie Kamae, visit hawaiianlegacy.com.

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