Dennis David Ka-hekili-mamao-i-kalani-keha ( The Distant Thunder In The Highest Heavens ) Kamakahi was the oldest child of Kenneth Franklyn Kamakahi and Clara Aweau Ing and was born on March 31, 1953 in Downtown Honolulu. At the age of 3, he started to play the ukulele and was taught by his Grandfather, David Naoo Kamakahi, the art of slack key guitar playing at the age of 10 years old.
He began his serious study of music while attending Aliamanu Intermediate School learning music theory and being a trombonist with the school band studying under Mr. William Kaneda. At the age of 14, he entered the Kamehameha Schools as a freshman and continued his study of music theory, band arranging, and composition under the guidance of Mr. David Lorch. It was at the Kamehameha Schools that he became friends with two fellow classmates who would themselves become Hawaii's exponents of Hawaiian Music and Culture, Dr. Kalena Silva, Professor of Ethnomusicology at the UH Hilo Campus and former Royal Hawaiian Bandmaster Aaron Mahi. It would be while attending the Kamehameha Schools that these three friends would set the course ofthe future of Hawaiian Music.
He graduated from Kamehameha High School in 1971 and entered Leeward Community College majoring in advanced music theory and orchestration with a minor of sociology and psychology. He left college in the summer of 1972 to pursue a professional career in music when he became a member of the group called Na Leo O Nuuanu whose members would include Aaron Mahi, Cyril Pahinui, Danny Akaka Jr., Kaipo Asing, and Bruce Spencer. He worked with the Hawaii Visitor's Bureau as a musician promoting Hawaii in 1974 traveling across Canada. Upon his return to Hawaii he found work in the Public Relations Department of Aloha Airlines working as part of the music promotional team. During that year, he also joined another group called the "SONS OF HAWAII" replacing slack key guitar legend, Gabby Pahinui.
It was his tenure with the Sons of Hawaii (1974 - 1995) that would lead him to become one of Hawaii's most prolific songwriters in the Hawaiian language being the composer of some 400 songs. Many of his songs became Hawaiian classics. Pua Hone, Wahine 'Ilikea, E Hihiwai, Koke'e, Golden Stallion, Selamoku, Hualalai, Kou Aloha Mau A Mau, Na Makani 'Eha, Na Ali'i Pu'olani just to name a few.
He became an ordained minister in 1977 and founded the Ka Leo Mana Mission in Hawaii and in 1978 became a member of the American Society of Composer, Authors, and Publishers. (ASCAP)
He has done soundtracks for several Hawaii produced films by Eddie and Myrna Kamae and in 1996 released his first solo slack key guitar CD which he co-produced with Howard Johnston and grammy winning new age pianist George Winston under the Dancing Cat label. In 1998 he released his second solo slack key guitar CD called 'Ohana (Family) which he recorded with his son David on ukulele.
In 2003, he released a second album with his son David entitled "The Gift of Music - From Father to Son" on his own recording label, DENNIS KAMAKAHI PRODUCTIONS.
On September 4, 2003 Dennis, along with his son David, were invited to the Walt Disney Studios to sing and play the main theme song for the animated sequel - LILO and STITCH II - released in August 2005 along with a CD - LILO AND STITCH - ISLAND FAVORITES.
On September 30, 2003, Dennis became a member of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) In 2004, Dennis produced the Na Hoku Hanohano Award winning CD featuring his son David entitled "PA'ANI. The CD won Contemporary Album of the Year in 2005.
On June 3, 2005, Dennis was award the Na Hoku Hanohano Kiho'alu Award (Slack Key Award).
On August 29, 2005, The Walt Disney Studio released LILO and STITCH 2 DVD featuring Dennis and David Kamakahi on the film soundtrack.
Sept 1, 2005, LILO and STITCH CD - Island Favorites - featuring Dennis and David Kamakahi playing the full length theme song of LILO and STITCH 2 is released.
Dennis continues to perform in concerts in Hawaii and abroad and currently teaches slack key and songwriting workshops in both Hawaii and the U.S. Mainland.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION:
1978 NANI AWARDS from the Hawaiian Music Foundation for the best new Hawaiian Song, "Sweet Weuweu".
1980 NA HOKU HANOHANO AWARD from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists Haku Mele Category for the song, "E Hihiwai".
1985 FRANK P. KERNOHAN AWARD from the Kamehameha Schools for distinguished achievement in the field of Music.
1987 HONOLULU CITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION for distinguished achievement in the field of Hawaiian Music.
1997 NA HOKU HANOHANO AWARDS - BEST MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR NOMINATION from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists for the album Pua'ena (Dancing Cat Records).
1999 NA HOKU HANOHANO AWARDS - BEST MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR NOMINATION from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Artists for the album 'Ohana (Dancing Cat Records).
2001 Proclamation from the Office of the Mayor, City and County of Honolulu designating August 19, 2001 DENNIS KAMAKAHI KIHO'ALU 2001, 19th ANNUAL SLACK KEY GUITAR FESTIVAL DAY
2005- NA HOKU HANOHANO AWARDS - Kiho'alu Award (Slack Key Award)
2006- STATE FOUNDATION ON CULTURE AND ARTS INDIVIDUAL FELLOWSHIP (State of Hawaii)
2006- FEATURED ARTIST ON 2 HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY CDs both of which nominated for the 49th Grammy Awards to be held on February 11, 2007 in Los Angeles, CA.
2007- GRAMMY WINNER on CD - Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar - Live from Maui
Waimea Music Festival (1973)
‘Ia ‘Oe E Ka La Vol. 1 (1973)
Eddie Kamae presents the Sons of Hawaii (1974)
The Music of Hawaii (1974)
Eddie Kamae presents the Sons of Hawaii (1975)
Eddie Kamae presents the Sons of Hawaii (1976)
Eddie Kamae presents the Sons of Hawaii (1977)
Christmas Time with Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawaii (1978)
Eddie Kamae presents the Sons of Hawaii (1979)
Eddie Kamae presents the Best of the Sons of Hawaii (1981)
Hui Aloha (1999)
Crossroads w/Na ‘Oiwi (2001)
Na ‘Oiwi - The Sequel (2002)
The Gift of Music - From Father To Son (2003)
David Kamakahi - "PA'ANI" (2004)
Lilo and Stitch 2 - DVD (2005)
Lilo and Stitch CD (2005)
Dennis Kamakahi - Featured artist on Hawaiian Slack Key Legends (2006)
Dennis and David Kamakahi - Featured artists on Hawaiian Slack Key Kings (2006)
THE GIFT OF MUSIC - FROM FATHER TO SON (2003) DKPCD 70012 (Dennis Kamakahi Productions)
The whole concept of this CD was to pass on to my son David songs that would eventually reflect his artistry as a ukulele master. It was conceived to be a gift for him to cherish for the rest of his life. Traditional Hawaiian songs and song written by me are showcased in a show format with narratives that explain each song.
The art of the combination of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar and Ukulele are showcased on this entire CD.