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. Her grandmother was a notable hakumele, 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. Kamehameha Schools was established by the estate of Bernice Pauahi Bishop to provide education for children of Hawaiian ancestry.
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". She was the composer of numerous songs in the Hawaiian language that are still being recorded by contemporary Hawaiian artists.
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. She died in 1952 and is buried at Homelani Memorial Park in Hilo.
Key- Subjects with bold titles and blue bold box= Aliʻi line. Bold title and grey bolded box= Lower ranking Aliʻi line. Bold title and un-bolded box= European nobility. Regular name and box= makaʻāinana or untitled foreign subject.
^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".[α]
^Kapuailohiawahine and her daughter Isabella, taught Hula in secret, hiding it after the ban by Kaʻahumanu.[β]
^Hawaii State Archives lists Samuel Kaia Miller marrying Amoy Ai on 5-2-1903 in Honolulu, Hawaii.[γ]
^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.[δ]
^Daisy Amoe and Samuel Kalimahana Miller had 12 children and resided in Kalihi where Samuel workd as a painter.[ε]
^In a press release from the Hula Preservation Society, they list Isabella Hale`ala Miller Desha as Nona Beamer's great grandmother.[ζ]
^The Desha Genealogy lists William Francis Desha as the son of Isabella and George Desha.[η]
^Hawaii Births and Christenings, 1852-1933. Milton Hoolulu Desha Beamer, 18 Oct 1903; citing Hilo, Hawaii, Hawaii, reference p 36; FHL microfilm 1,031,747.[θ]