Ukulele Festival Hawaii Gala

Friday, July 14, 2017 – 5:30 pm
Ala Moana Hotel — Hibiscus Ballroom
Distinguished Honorees 2017
Celebrating 47 years of Ukulele Festival in Hawaii, join us as we honor and celebrate Hawaii’s treasures Eddie Kamae and Herbert Ohta “Ohta San” for their lifetime of contributions over the course of their illustrious careers.
Eddie Kamae

Eddie Kamae

Eddie Kamae born in 1927 is a distinguished musician, singer, composer, a documentary director, and author. He has been a key figure in the Hawaiian cultural renaissance, which found one its earliest and strongest voices in the Sons of Hawai‘i. This charismatic band, was formed in 1959 by Kamae - already famous for his ‘ukulele virtuoso -and the legendary singer and slack-key guitar master, Gabby Pahinui. Eddie’s story began when he taught himself to play the ‘ukulele after his brother found an instrument on a city bus and brought it home to him. From that moment on, Kamae was captivated by the sound it produced. Eddie knew and loved Hawaiian music, but in his early years, found no challenge in its simple progressions, so he turned to classical, Latin, popular, and jazz tunes which required a mastery of theory and technique that few, if any, had ever attained on the ‘ukulele. Kamae learned to play the most difficult classical arrangements and developed a technique of plucking all four strings simultaneously, resulting in a sound that included both melody and chords together at the same time. Kamae revolutionized the traditional method of playing the ‘ukulele and transformed it from a rhythmic instrument with limited capabilities into a major instrument with unlimited potential. The turning point in his musical career was when he abandoned non-Hawaiian music and devoted himself almost exclusively to traditional Hawaiian music influenced by the haunting memory of the only thing his father asked him to do -- to sing and play Hawaiian music.


Herbert Ohta “Ohta San”

Herb "Ohta-san" Ohta born in 1934, internationally renowned musician, began playing the ukulele when he was only 7 years old. Influenced greatly by Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Eddie Kamae, this exceptional musician is credited for elevating the ukulele to a solo instrument of virtuoso status. Ohta-san's diversity and style reflect his lyrical sense and is respected as the height of ukulele artistry. In 1964 "Sushi" became a #1 hit in Hawaii. It was later released by Warner Bros. Records. Ohta San became an overnight success and became a household name in Hawaii. Ohta San contributed to the “Artist in the School's program” for elementary school children and taught at University of Hawaii's Continuing Education program and offered 'ukulele lessons to music majors as well as private sessions. The student he is most proud of is Roy Sakuma. Ohta-San appeared in many top Waikiki nightspots regularly toured in Japan where he continued to record albums for Polydor, Warner Brothers, Pioneer, Japan Broadcast, and JVC. The highlight of his career is "Song for Anna” written expressly for him by famed French composer and conductor Andre Popp who invited him to record with the Paris Symphony Orchestra. Originally released in Hawaii in 1973, it was rereleased on A&M Records, and became an international hit in 1974, selling over six million copies. And the releases kept coming with Ohta~san winning Na Hoku Hanohano Awards for Instrumental recordings four times. In 2003, Ohta San was invited to perform with the greatest names in jazz at the prestigious Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.



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