DENNIS DAVID KAHEKILIMAMAOIKALANIKEHA KAMAKAHI
Dennis David Kahekilimamaoikalanikeha Kamakahi, multiple Grammy winner (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences), multiple Na Hoku Hanohano winner (Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts), 2009 Inductee into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame, Hawaiian slack key guitarist, recording artist, and a prolific music composer of the Hawaiian Music genre. He is an active member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild), ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers), MTNA (Music Teachers National Association), MENC (The National Association for Music Education).
Dennis began his serious study of music while attending Aliamanu Intermediate School studying music theory and learning to play the trombone with the school band under the direction of William Kaneda. At the age of 14, he entered the Kamehameha Schools as a freshman and continued his study of music theory, band arranging, and composition under the guidance of David Lorch and, after 4 years with the high school band, became the band's drum major and student band conductor in his senior year. It was at the Kamehameha Schools that he became friends with two fellow classmates who would themselves become Hawaii's exponents of Hawaiian Music and Culture, Dr. Kalena Silva, Professor of Ethnomusicology and Director of the Ka Haka 'Ula O Ke'elikolani,College of Hawaiian Language at the UH Hilo Campus, and former Royal Hawaiian Bandmaster Aaron Mahi. It would be after graduating from the Kamehameha Schools that these three close friends would each play an integral part in the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance of the early 1970s.
After graduating from Kamehameha Schools in 1971, he became a student of Hawaiian language and poetry under Dr. Mary Kawena Pukui. Under her guidance, he would launch his music career into the writing of poetic Hawaiian songs similar to the styles of Queen Lili'uokalani and Sam Li'a Kalainaina, a Hawaiian language poet and songwriter from the turn of the 20th century.
He entered Leeward Community College majoring in advanced music theory and orchestration under Charles Brennan, with a minor in sociology and psychology. He left college in the summer of 1972 to pursue a professional musical career and became a member of a Hawaiian music group known as Na Leo O Nuuanu, whose members included Aaron Mahi, Cyril Pahinui, Danny Akaka Jr., Kaipo Asing, and Bruce Spencer. He worked with the Hawaii Visitor's Bureau as a musician promoting Hawaii in 1974 traveling across Canada. Upon his return to Hawaii he was employed with the Public Relations Department of Aloha Airlines, working as part of a music promotional team. During that year, he was called to join the "(Sons of Hawaii)" replacing slack key guitar legend, Gabby Pahinui.
Professional Music Career
Dennis's first recording with Na Leo O Nu'uanu was an album entitled 'Ia 'Oe E Ka La Volume 1 on the Nakahili Productions label with Palani Vaughan. It was the first of a series of albums based on the life of King David Kalakaua. The second recording of the group in 1974 would become historic in the Hawaiian music genre, the album was recorded live at a music festival in Waimea, Hawaii called The Waimea Music Festival. It was the Hawaiian Woodstock of the 1970s and featured many of Hawaii's popular entertainers of that time including Gabby Pahinui, Fred Punahoa, The Sunday Manoa, and Genoa Keawe.
It was his tenure with (Eddie Kamae) the (Sons of Hawaii) (1974 - 1995) that would lead him to become one of Hawaii's most prolific songwriter in the Hawaiian language, composing 500 songs. Many of his songs became Hawaiian classics, including Pua Hone, Wahine 'Ilikea, E Hihiwai, Koke'e, Golden Stallion, Selamoku, Hualalai, Kou Aloha Mau A Mau, Na Makani 'Eha, Na Ali'i Pu'olani. In 1974, Dennis recorded with the Sons of Hawai'i for the National Geographic Society's Music of the World series. It would be the beginning of seven albums under the Hawaii Sons label and the recording of many of his music compositions. In 1978 he became a member of the American Society of Composer, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and created Naukilo Publishing Company, a music publishing firm.
From 1988 until 2004, he continued to work with Kamae recording soundtracks for several Hawaiian documentary films, LI‘A: The Legacy of a Hawaiian Man, LISTEN TO THE FOREST, THE HAWAIIAN WAY: The Art and Tradition of Slack Key Music, WORDS, EARTH & ALOHA: The Source of Hawaiian Music, LUTHER KAHEKILI MAKEKAU: A One Kine Hawaiian Man, HAWAIIAN VOICES: Bridging Past to Present, SONS OF HAWAI‘I: A Sound, A Band, A Legend, HAWAIIAN SON: The Life and Music of Eddie Kamae, and KEEPERS OF THE FLAME: The Legacy of Three Hawaiian Women, all produced by Eddie and Myrna Kamae as part of the Hawaiian Legacy Foundation series.
Dennis launched his solo career in 1996, releasing his first slack key guitar CD, co-produced by Howard Johnston and pianist George Winston, under the (Dancing Cat Records) label entitled Pua'ena (Glow Brightly). In 1998 he released his second slack key guitar CD for Dancing Cat Records together with son David Kamakahi on ukulele. The CD was called 'Ohana (Family). It was soon followed by another Dancing Cat Records release entitled "Hui Aloha" (Play Together) featuring both Dennis and David Kamakahi, George Kuo, and Martin Pahinui.
In 2003 under his own recording label, DENNIS KAMAKAHI PRODUCTIONS, he released a second album with son David entitled "The Gift of Music - From Father to Son". The CD included narratives between each song selection to explain the meaning of each song. The year 2003 found both Dennis and David involved with the Walt Disney Studios to provide vocal and instrumental the animated sequel - (Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch) (released in August 2005) along with a CD - Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch - ISLAND FAVORITES featuring Dennis singing the lead vocal to the movies main theme song - "ALWAYS". It was also at this time that Dennis became a member of SAG Screen Actors Guild.
Dennis produced an album featuring David in 2004 called "PA'ANI (PLAY). The CD was the first solo ukulele effort of David and garnered a Na Hoku Hanohano Award from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts for Contemporary Album of the Year in 2005. At that same Award Ceremony, Dennis was honored with the Na Hoku Hanohano Kiho'alu Award (Slack Key Award) by the (Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts).
On August 29, 2005, The Walt Disney Studio released (Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch) DVD featuring Dennis and David Kamakahi on the film soundtrack along with the (Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch) CD - Island Favorites - featuring Dennis and David Kamakahi singing and playing the full length theme song "ALWAYS" of (Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch).
At the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, CA on February 11, 2007, Dennis received his first (Grammy Award) for Best Hawaiian Album on a slack key guitar compilation CD entitled Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, part of the recorded live concerts at Kapalua, Maui at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Dennis received his second (Grammy Award) (Hawaiian Music Category) in 2008 at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, CA for the slack key guitar compilation CD entitled Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, part of the second recorded live concert series at the Napilikai Resort Hotel in Kapalua, Maui. He also joined (MTNA) (Music Teachers National Association) that year to continue the teaching and advancement of music composition to students.
Dennis was nominated for his third (Grammy Award) in 2009 with the slack key compilation CD entitled The Spirit of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, a third recorded live series at the Napilikai Resort Hotel in Kapalua, Maui. The CD did not win a Grammy Award. However, he did receive his first gold Grammy Nominee medal as a record producer.
Perhaps the two most prestigious awards in his music career, both given in 2009, were the Lifetime Achievement Award from the (Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts) as a member of the Sons of Hawaii and his induction into the Hawaiian Music Hall Of Fame. Dennis continues to perform in live concerts in Hawaii and abroad and currently teaches Hawaiian slack key guitar, the History of Hawaiian songs and their meaning, and songwriting workshops in both Hawaii and the U.S. Mainland.
Awards and recognition
1978 NANI AWARDS from the Hawaiian Music Foundation for the best new Hawaiian Song, "Sweet Weuweu".
1980 NA HOKU HANOHANO AWARD from the (Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts) New Hawaiian Song of the Year: "E Hihiwai".
1985 FRANK P. KERNOHAN AWARD from the Kamehameha Schools for distinguished achievement in the field of Music.
1987 HONOLULU CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION for distinguished achievement in the field of Hawaiian Music.
1997 NA HOKU HANOHANO AWARDS - BEST MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR NOMINATION from the (Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts) for the album Pua'ena (Dancing Cat Records).
1999 NA HOKU HANOHANO AWARDS - BEST MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR NOMINATION from the (Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts) for the album 'Ohana (Dancing Cat Records).
2001 Proclamation from the Office of the Mayor, City and County of Honolulu designating August 19,
2001 DENNIS KAMAKAHI KIHO'ALU 2001, 19th ANNUAL SLACK KEY GUITAR FESTIVAL DAY
2005- NA HOKU HANOHANO AWARDS from the (Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts) - Kiho'alu Award (Slack Key Award)
2006- STATE FOUNDATION ON CULTURE AND ARTS INDIVIDUAL FELLOWSHIP (State of Hawaii)
2006- FEATURED ARTIST ON 2 HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY CDs both of which nominated for the 49th Grammy Awards to be held on February 11, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA.
2007- (Grammy Award) winner for Best Hawaiian Album- Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar - Live in Maui.
2007- STATE OF HAWAII HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES RESOLUTION in honor of winning Grammy Award in the Hawaiian Music category.
2008- FEATURED ARTIST on CD entitled TREASURES OF HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY GUITAR nominated for the 50th Grammy Awards to be held February 10, 2008 in Los Angeles, CA.
2008- (Grammy Award) winner for Best Hawaiian Album entitled- Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar - Live in Maui.
2009 - Nominated for third (Grammy Award) for both performer and producer for the slack key guitar album - The Spirit of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar - Live in Maui.
2009 - LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD from the (Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts) (HARA).
2009- Newly inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame.
2009- Nominated for third Grammy Award on two CDs. The Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Vol. 2 and Amy Hanaiali'i's - Family and Friends of Hawaii.
2010- Won third Grammy Award for The Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Vol.2 CD.
2011- Nominated for a fourth Grammy Award for Amy Hanai'ali'i and Slack Key Masters of Hawaii.
2011- Hawaii Music Awards winner for Best Contemporary Album of the year for Amy Hanai'ali'i and Slack Key Masters of Hawaii.
2012- Winner of the Na Hoku Hanohano Award 2012 for Best Slack Key Album of the Year - WAIMAKA HELELEI.