Helen Desha Beamer

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Helen Desha Beamer
Helen Desha Beamer.jpg
Background information
Birth name Helen Kapuailohia Desha
Born (1882-09-08)September 8, 1882
Honolulu, Kingdom of Hawaii
Died September 25, 1952(1952-09-25) (aged 70)
Genres Hawaiian
Occupation(s) Singer, musician, composer
Instruments Vocals, Piano

Helen Kapuailohia Desha Beamer (Sept. 8, 1882–Sept. 25, 1952)[1] was a musician, composer of songs in the Hawaiian language, hula dancer and coloratura soprano of Hawaiian ancestry. Her descendents have also become accomplished artists in the U.S. state of Hawaii. In 1928, her duet of the Hawaiian Wedding Song with Sam Kapu on Columbia Records was the first commercial recording of the Charles E. King composition . She was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 1995.

Early life[edit]

Helen Kapuailohia Desha was born on September 8, 1882, in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Her parents were George Langhern Desha and Isabella Hale'ala Miller. Her mother and grandmother, Kapuailohiawahine Kanuha Miller, taught hula in secret when the dance was banned.[1] Her grandmother was a notable bakumele, Hawaiian for composer of music. Helen was a graduate of Kamehameha School for Girls, where the school's music director noted her talent as a pianist and as a song composer.[2] Kamehameha Schools was established by the estate of Bernice Pauahi Bishop to provide education for children of Hawaiian ancestry.[3]

She was also the organist at Haili Church in Hilo.[4]

Professional career[edit]

She had a coloratura soprano range and was a recording artist for Columbia Records. In 1928, she and artist Sam Kapu made the first commercial recording of the Hawaiian Wedding Song, which had been written by composer Charles E. King as "Ke Kali Nei Au".[2][4] She was the composer of numerous songs in the Hawaiian language that are still being recorded by contemporary Hawaiian artists.[5]

Personal life and legacy[edit]

Helen Desha married Peter Carl Beamer of Hilo. The couple had five children. She was the matriarch of a musical dynasty that includes her grandson, falsetto singer Mahi Beamer, who was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 2006; granddaughter Winona (Nona) Beamer; and Nona Beamer's two sons, Keola and Kapono.[6] She died in 1952 and is buried at Homelani Memorial Park in Hilo.[7]

In 1995, she was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame.[2]

Compositions (partial list)[edit]

Source: allmusic[5]

Family tree[edit]

Alexander P. Miller Jr.[A 1] Kapuailohia Wahine Kanuha Kaialiilii.[A 2]
Sarah Kaʻili Miller John Mahiʻai Miller/Kaneakua
(Oct. 9, 1860-Jan. 26, 1936)
County Clerk of Kaua‘i
Hui Hawaiian Aloha ʻĀina
Lucy Kaʻumealani Cummings Samuel Kalimahana Kaialiilii Miller.[A 3][A 4]
(1868-Nov. 24, 1933)
Daisy Amoe Ai[A 5] George Langhern Desha Isabella Haleʻala Kaʻili Miller[A 6][A 7]
(1865-Feb. 28, 1949)
Noa Miller
Sakichi Hayashi Annie Maikaʻi Miller Peter Carl Beamer Helen Kapuailohia Desha
(Sept. 8, 1882–Sept. 25, 1952)
David Lester Desha
James Waichiro Miller Milton Hoʻolulu Beamer Kaaloehukaiopuaena Copp Francis Kealiʻinohopono Beamer Louise Leiomälama Harriet Kekahiliokalani Beamer Peter Carl Kaleikaʻapunihonua Beamer Jr. Helen Elizabeth Kawohikukapulani Beamer
Mahi Beamer Odell Steppe Winona Beamer
Keola Beamer Kapono Beamer


  1. ^ Kaʻanoʻi Walk writes in an article for the Hawaiian Cultral Center: "..my great-grandfather John Mahiʻai Kāneakua was born in Honuaʻula, Maui to his loving parents Alexander P. Miller and Kanuha (Kaialiilii) Miller".[8]
  2. ^ Kapuailohiawahine and her daughter Isabella, taught Hula in secret, hiding it after the ban by Kaʻahumanu.[9]
  3. ^ Hawaii State Archives lists Samuel Kaia Miller marrying Amoy Ai on 5-2-1903 in Honolulu, Hawaii.[10]
  4. ^ The Marriage certificate of Samuel and Daisy Amoe Ai lists Alika Miller and Kanuha as parents to Samuel, with Namakelele and Ai as parent to Daisy.[11]
  5. ^ Daisy Amoe and Samuel Kalimahana Miller had 12 children and resided in Kalihi where Samuel workd as a painter.[12]
  6. ^ In a press release from the Hula Preservation Society, they list Isabella Hale`ala Miller Desha as Nona Beamer's great grandmother.[13]
  7. ^ The Desha Genealogy lists William Francis Desha as the son of Isabella and George Desha.[14]


  1. ^ a b "pg composer B". Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Helen Desha Beamer". Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ Peterson, Gary W.; Steinmetz, Suzanne (2003). Pioneering Paths in the Study of Families: The Lives and Careers of Family Scholars. Routledge. p. 57. ISBN 978-0-7890-2089-5. 
  4. ^ a b "Bio Helen Kapuailohia Desha Beamer". Kbeamer.com. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Credits for Helen Desha Beamer". allmusic.com. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  6. ^ "About Helen Beamer". Hawaiian Music History. Retrieved July 16, 2012. 
  7. ^ Helen Desha Beamer at Find a Grave
  8. ^ Walk, Kaʻanoʻi. "Kāneakua, John Mahiʻai". Hawaiian Cultural Center. Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Barbara Bennett Peterson (1984). Notable Women of Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-8248-0820-4. 
  10. ^ "MARRIAGES: Oahu (1832-1910)". Hawaiian Genealogy indexes. Hawaiʻi State Archives. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  11. ^ State of Hawaii Department of Health, Office of Health Status Monitoring, Certificate of Marriage, May 2, 1903
  12. ^ "No Race Suicide Here". The Garden Island. December 17, 1918. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "Hula Preservation". Hula Preservation Society. Hula Preservation Society. Retrieved 27 December 2014. 
  14. ^ DeWitt Collier Nogues (1983). Desha genealogy: a survey. ATEX Austin Inc. p. 212.