Eddie Kamae

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Eddie Kamae
Birth nameEdward Leilani Kamae
Also known asEddie Kamae
Born(1927-08-04)August 4, 1927
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
DiedJanuary 7, 2017(2017-01-07) (aged 89)
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii
Occupation(s)Live performer
Film Producer
Hawaiian Culture Historian
Years active1940–2017
WebsiteSons of Hawaii

Edward Leilani "Eddie" Kamae (August 4, 1927 – January 7, 2017) was one of the founding members of Sons of Hawaii. He was a 'ukulele virtuoso, singer, composer, film producer and primary proponent[1] of the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance.


Eddie Leilani Kamae was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and raised both there and in Lahaina, Maui. His grandmother was a dancer for King David Kalākaua's court.[2]

He learned to play the 'ukulele[3] with an instrument his bus driver brother found on the public transport. Eddie would sit by the radio and try to play with any rhythm section he was hearing, usually Latin, classical and jazz tunes. When he was 14 years old, his father would take him to jam sessions where Eddie would get up on stage to play, earning accolades from the audiences who threw money at the performers' feet. Kamae began going to Queen's Surf to listen to the Hawaiian music being played.

Kamae began to teach ukulele. 2006 'Ukulele Hall of Fame Inductee Herb Ohta Sr., also known at Ohta-San,[4] was mentored by Kamae.[5] Kamae died on January 7, 2017, at the age of 89.[6] In addition, he contributed a lot to the influence of Hawaiian music on the rest of the world.

Sons of Hawaii[edit]

Kamae was introduced to Gabby Pahinui in 1959, and the slack key virtuoso demonstrated a new way to make the 'ukulele "talk story". Kamae himself would come to be known for his inventive methods of plucking all four strings simultaneously,[4][7] playing the chords and melody at the same time.[1] They began playing together and formed Sons of Hawaii, with their first paying gig at The Sand Box.

Film producer[edit]

Mary Kawena Pukui[8] and Pilahi Paki became Eddie's first teachers in the Hawaiian language. Eddie began to feel a growing need[1] to teach the Hawaiian culture through music, to pass it along to succeeding generations. Eddie began to chart a new course with his arts.

His 1971 initial meeting with Hawaiian poet Sam Li'a Kalainaina Jr. resulted in Kamae's first documentary in 1988,[9] LI'A: The Legacy of a Hawaiian Man . Together, Kamae and Li'a wrote Hawaii Pia Valley Song. Kamae has also produced the documentaries[10] The Hawaiian Way The Art and Tradition of Slack Key Music (1993) The History of the Sons of Hawaii (2004), Words, Earth & Aloha: Source of Hawaiian Music (2005), Keepers of the Flame (2005) Lahaina: Waves of Change (2007).


Eddie Kamae Awards and Recognitions[7]
Year Presented By Award-Recognition
1978 State of Hawaii, House of Representatives Resolution for outstanding achievements in Hawai‘ian musical performance, research and recording
1978 National Association of Television Programming Executives[11] Iris Award
1978 New York International Film Festival Award
1979 Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii Living Treasure of Hawaii[12]
1984 March of Dimes No Ka Oi Award for outstanding showmanship
1989 Brigham Young University-Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center Na Makua Mahalo Ia Award for a lifetime of dedicated service to the people of Hawai‘i through musical composition and performance scholarship
1992 Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts Na Hoku Hanohano Lifetime Achievement Award[13]
1993 Hawaii Delegation of the United States Congress Joint Resolution to Eddie and Myrna Kamae for service and accomplishments in leadership, music and film
1996 Bishop Museum Charles Reed Bishop Award[14] for best exemplifying the spirit and purpose of Bishop Museum founder Charles Reed Bishop
2000 Commission on Culture and The Arts for City and County of Honolulu Lifetime Achievement Award
2001 Ukulele Hall of Fame Induction [12]
2002 Hawaii International Film Festival To Eddie and Myrna Kamea for their ongoing contribution of their Hawaiian Legacy Series
2005 Hawaii Governor Governor Lingle July 24 declared[10] Eddie Kamae Day
2005 House of Representatives, State of Hawaii Resolution for Achievement in Hawaii Music and Film
2006 The Hawai‘ian Cultural Foundation at Pacifika New York Hawai‘ian Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award
2006 New York City Council, Councilman John Liu Proclamation for Contributions to the Perpetuation of Hawaiian culture through music and film
2007 National Endowment for the Arts NEA National Heritage Fellowship[15]
2007 Hawaii Tourism Authority Keep it Hawai‘i Kahili Award, recognition of perpetuation of Hawaiian culture.
2007 Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame Inductee


  • Yesterday & Today, Vol. 2 (2009) CD (Hawaii Sons)
  • Yesterday & Today (2008) CD (Hawaii Sons)
  • This Is Eddie Kamae (2008) CD 1197 (Omagatoki Japan)
  • Eddie Kamae & Friends (2006) CD 8542 (Hawaii Sons)
  • Heart of the Ukulele (2004) CD 3002 (Surfside/Mahalo)
  • Eddie Kamae Presents: The Best of Sons of Hawaii, Vol. 1 (2004) CD (Hawaii Sons)
  • Eddie Kamae & The Sons of Hawaii (2004) CD (Hawaii Sons)
  • Christmas Time With Eddie Kamae & Sons of Hawai'i (2004) CD 1014 (Hawaii Sons)
  • Sons of Hawaii (1998) CD 8516 (Panini)
  • Music of Old Hawaii (1962) CD Hula


Kamae, Eddie; Houston, James D (2004). Hawaiian Son. Hawaiian Legacy. ISBN 978-1-883528-28-7.


  1. ^ a b c Buck, Elizabeth (1993). Paradise Remade: The Politics of Culture and History in Hawai'i. Temple University Press. ISBN 978-0-87722-978-0.
  2. ^ "Eddie Kamae: Hawaiian musician, composer, filmmaker". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. n.d. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  3. ^ "NEA Interview". NEA. Archived from the original on June 2, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010. NEA
  4. ^ a b Eidson, Ken; Cherednik, Ross (1993). Hawaiian Uke Tunebook. Mel Bay Publications. ISBN 978-0-87166-842-4.
  5. ^ "Ohta-San". The Ukulele Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on November 29, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010.The Ukulele Hall of Fame
  6. ^ Gutierrez, Ben (January 7, 2017). "Beloved Hawaiian musician Eddie Kamae dies". Hawaii News Now.
  7. ^ a b "Eddie Kamae and Sons of Hawaii". Hawaii Sons Inc. Retrieved May 20, 2010.Hawaii Sons Inc
  8. ^ Gordon, Mike (July 2, 2006). "Mary Kawena Pukui". Honolulu Advertiser.
  9. ^ "LI'A". The Hawaii Legacy Foundation. Retrieved May 20, 2010.The Hawaii Legacy Foundation
  10. ^ a b "About Eddie Kamae". Hawaiian Music History. Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  11. ^ "NATPE Awards". NATPE. Archived from the original on June 13, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010.NATPE
  12. ^ a b "Ukulele Hall of Fame Inductees". The Ukulele Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 20, 2010. The Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum
  13. ^ "Na Hoku Hanohano Award". Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2010. Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts
  14. ^ "Bishop Museum". Bishop Museum. Archived from the original on October 10, 2010. Retrieved May 20, 2010. Bishop Museum
  15. ^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 2007". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. n.d. Retrieved January 12, 2021.

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