Photo by Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Kapono Beamer has stayed out of the public eye as he has become older, but he invokes his musical power through studio work and occasional live performances. His new effort, "Pana Aloha," is designed to massage listeners' souls.

"Pana Aloha, Hawaiian Heartbeat"

Available at
Kapono Beamer on iTunes

Healing accompaniment

By Wayne Harada, Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Kapono Beamer has discovered the healing power of his music, as he presents his new CD,"Pana Aloha, Hawaiian Heartbeat"

"As I get older, I have come to realize how powerful music can be to soothe a heavy heart," said the Hawaiian entertainer. "And when you're in the hospital with medical problems, or even dying, music can really help bring comfort at a time of need."

Beamer, 49, the younger of the former Keola and Kapono Beamer brother team, has just released "Pana Aloha," a CD of instrumentals intended to heal and comfort. The title, he said, can mean "a love for places," but he prefers another meaning, "Hawaiian Heartbeat." Or "the pulse of aloha."

"Ever since I did 'Great Grandmother, Great Grandson' (his last Island CD), I have had feedback on how this old Hawaiian music – in the last album, the music of my great grandmother, Helen Desha Beamer – has the ability to heal," he said. "This guy called me to say that his father was in the hospital, dying from cancer, and the only thing he wanted to hear was my album of my great grandma's songs. He said the songs gave his dad comfort and peace; he was a part-Hawaiian man. He died while listening to the album."

Beamer is a guitarist, composer, singer and a recording artist who has devoted quite a few projects to his slack-key guitar wizardry. "Pana Aloha," his 18th album, is a collection of beloved island melodies – one original and 11 very familiar songs, performed in a seductive and graceful style – intended to evoke warm, kind, and gentle massages for the soul. And yes, it has virtues of healing, too.

"Interestingly, the album was done with a Japanese partnership," said Beamer, whose music has had exposure in Japan and throughout Europe. "Felissimo, my partners from Japan with an Italian company name, wanted to sponsor a project," he said. "They said do whatever is in your heart and soul."

"Pana Aloha" is the result, the title evolving from Hawaiiana scholar, teacher and composer Puakea Nogelmeier. "He knows the kauna of the music; he knows the language," Beamer said.

The songs are first-time recordings for the Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning performer, though the selections have been his favorites for years.

"I think the songs form a natural progression from the Helen Desha Beamer album, arranged in so many different ways and featuring acoustic guitar. It's very listenable and easy on the ears."

With his brother Keola, Beamer helped shape the sound and look of contemporary Island music in 1970s Hawai'i, most notably with the enduring hit "Honolulu City Lights," and club appearances on the Waikiki circuit that brought young blood into the tourist mainstream.

Since splitting up with his brother, who moved to Maui, Beamer has maintained a solo career but hasn't performed live on a regular basis.

"I got shy in my old age," he said. "Basically, I have to kick myself in the 'okole to do a live show. ... I'm most comfortable in a controlled creative environment, like the recording studio."

So instead of regular club gigs, his livelihood comes from royalties and studio work. "I've been fortunate enough to have had a recording career, built over the past 20 or so years, not only here but in Europe," he said. "I don't have to look for a gig. I do not need a gig, though occasionally, I do miss the live contact."

His music has been distributed in 30 countries throughout the world.

Beamer also augments his personal projects with links to other Island acts. Most recently, he joined Keal'i Reichel in the recording studio, co-producing the Maui performer's "Melalana." Over the years, Beamer also has contributed his songs to a host of TV and film projects as well as commercials.

"That's the power of music," Beamer said. "It not only heals, but it transports you to anywhere you want to go."

Selected discography

Just out: "Pana Aloha, Hawaiian Heartbeat," Kapono Beamer Enterprises Ltd.

Na Hoku Hanohano Award winners: "Great Grandmother, Great Grandson," OnoPak Music; "Paradise Found," OnoPak Music and Intersound Records; "Secrets Under The Sun," OnoPak Music; "Escape to Paradise," Volcano Productions; "Honolulu City Lights," Paradise Productions.

Vintage best bets: (with brother Keola) : "Pure Hawaiian Magic," Paradise Productions; "The Best of Keola and Kapono Beamer," Music of Polynesia.

Something different: "Cruisin' On Hawaiian Time," Kapono Beamer and Dave Jenkins, Luster Bros. Records.

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Behind the scenes with Kapono Beamer

* Full name: Brenton Kaponomalamalani Beamer

* Birthdate: June 9, 1952

* Birthplace: Hollywood ("Why there? You have to ask my mother; she must have been on tour.")

* High school: Kamehameha, Class of 1970

* College: University of Hawai'i, 1970-1973 ("Three years; I didn't finish because I went to work.")

* First recollection of music: At home, with mother Nona Beamer and her family; "I remember mother strumming her 'ukulele, holomu swaying, giving hula lessons."

* First guitar: A beat-up relic, from grandfather Pono Beamer, who fixed a crack and gave it to him as a gift. "In elementary school, I had it standing up next to my desk, with its strap looped out, and some kid caught it on his foot and it went flying. It disintegrated, and I remember I cried."

* First performance: At age 4, performed "Pupu Hinuhinu" with his mother. "I remember dancing while she was singing, and by the time I put the shell to sleep (a movement in the dance), I was asleep."

* Little-known fact: He is the composer of the musical themes on KHON-2's newscasts, from the opening segment to the familiar "shaka sign" closing refrain.


<Reprinted with permission, Honolulu Advertiser>