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Posted on: Tuesday, January 31, 2006

'Dreams' tribute to kupuna's values

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

Kapono Beamer grew up playing 'ukulele at his family's hula studio.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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7 p.m. (tape-delayed) Wednesday, Feb. 8


Staples Center, Los Angeles

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Artist/Label: Kapono Beamer/ "Slack Key Dreams of the Ponomoe" (Kapono Beamer Enterprises)

Age: 53

Career Hoku awards: "Sixteen; I have wooden and acrylic ones (refers to early and later versions of the award)."

Attending the Grammys? "Naturally; my wife (Dayna Marie Beamer) and I will be going."

Wearing what? "Something with pants, for sure; I'm not the fashion plate. A suit, I guess."

What kind of lei? "I don't know; maile?"

Where would you display the award if you win? "Amid the Hoku awards, at home, overlooking great-grandmother's koa sofa."

What in the nominated CD are you most proud of? "That I wrote 11 new songs, and used two ancient Hawaiian chants, and also the voice of my grandmother. It was a creative rebirth for me."

On making the CD: "When I sat with my guitar on this koa sofa that my great-grandmother had in Hilo, in the 1800s, I really felt spiritual connections."

Next up: "I'm helping my son (Kamana Beamer) produce his first album, which is guitar-based and politically charged; he just turned 28 and is teaming with Steve Ma'i'i's son, Kaliko. I'll do a European project after the Grammys, something I've been doing for the last 20 years. Then, a new CD for myself. I feel inspired, happy to be able to live and work in Hawai'i."

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Kapono Beamer says he experienced spiritual connections with his kupuna during the creative process for his Grammy-nominated CD, "Slack Key Dreams of the Ponomoe."

"It doesn't get better," said the 16-time Hoku Award-winner. "I dreamed about getting nominated; but to do it with this personal album, drawing from my family heritage, has been a magical experience."

Kapono says the lessons of his grandparents were influential. "I used to play 'ukulele for my grandma's hula studio, which wasn't called a halau in those days, while I was in grade school. They instilled a lot of Hawaiian values in us," he said. "I miss them so much, but I felt a powerful presence while working on the CD, while writing songs. I so wanted to include the voice of my grandmother (Louise Leiomalama Beamer)." And he did, by including a recording he had made of her chanting at home."

His mother, Winona Beamer, also helped shape his work. "While in school, I backed up my mother when she performed, so the hula repertoire is part of my musical DNA," said Beamer.

He said the disc represents a reawakening of his creative forces, while the music reflects a cherished time. "My last year and a half have been a life-changing experience," said Beamer. "And through the process of doing this album, I felt my grandmother was there, guiding me along."

While he's touted as an instrumentalist on his CD, Beamer said he's also a vocalist (there are sung tracks on the album) and was somewhat surprised that of five contenders, four were largely instrumental.

"I think it's got to do with the anomaly of the voting membership, which includes many outside of Hawai'i," said Beamer. "And ki ho'alu won last year, so it would seem that there are voters elsewhere with limited knowledge of Hawaiian music, which means we all need to help educate them."

Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Reprinted with permission

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