Eddie Kamae

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From 2007 NEA National Heritage Fellowships:

Eddie Kamae was raised in Honolulu and Lahaina, Maui within a family steeped in Hawaiian tradition. His grandmother was a court dancer during the reign of King Kalakaua.

Early in his career, he was known for his mastery of the `ukulele. In 1949, he toured the U.S. mainland as a member of "Ray Kinney's Hawaiian Revue". Kamae became a key figure in the Hawaiian cultural renaissance, co-founding the influential band "The Sons of Hawai`i". The band, while garnering a broad audience, became known for the authenticity of its feeling and the unique repertoire, much of which was based on Kamae's deep interest in tradition. In 1974, he helped produce the landmark album "Music of Hawai`i" part of the National Geographic's "Music of the World" series and with his group produced seven albums of traditional Hawaiian music.

During the 1980s, Kamae took up filmmaking to document and preserve authentic Hawaiian cultural continuity. Today he is known as a musical leader and an artist with a voice "both guttural and poetic that carries the spirit of an ancient vocal and chanting tradition into present day Hawaiian music." Among his many honors, he has been designated a "Living Treasure of Hawai`i" and has received the Hawai`i Academy of Recording Arts' "Lifetime Achievement Award". With all of this attention, one nominator says, "Eddie's main focus has always been the school children of Hawai`i …he continues to donate films and study guides and has personally presented to more than 200,000 students in the public schools."