Dennis Kamakahi

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  Dennis David Kahekilimamaoikalanikeha Kamakahi is one of Hawai`i's most prolific and popular songwriters. He is also a warm, evocative singer and a gifted guitarist firmly committed to the ki ho`alu (slack key) tradition.

Dennis was born March 31, 1953, in Honolulu, before cable TV and video games. He considers this a blessing and cites it as an important factor in his musical development. "After dinner," Dennis recalls, "our family and neighbors would come outside on our porches, play music and talk story. You didn't have TV, you had each other. The last thing you'd hear at night was music lulling you to sleep."

In 1973, Eddie Kamae asked Dennis to join The Sons of Hawai`i to fill the slack key spot vacated by Gabby Pahinui, a big honor and challenge for a young musician. Dennis began to develop his song writing with The Sons. He'd been writing since junior high school, but his output increased as the band, audiences and other composers encouraged him. Among these was scholar Mary Kawena Pukui. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, The Sons maintained a high profile. Many of their songs became instant classics, including the Kamakahi originals Wahine 'Ilikea, Koke'e, Pua Hone, and Ka `Opae.

In the early 1990s, Dennis accepted Dancing Cat's invitation to perform solo...leading to many solo releases, as well as recordings with fellow musicians -- including his son, David.