Dennis Kamakahi: 1953-2014

Posted On April 28th, 2014 -

Slack-key master revered as a music legend
By Michael Tsai

Multiple news organizations are reporting that local entertainer Dennis Kama­kahi has died at the age of 61.

A Facebook entry attributed to Kama­kahi’s son David announced Kama­kahi’s death, saying in part:

“Hawaii has lost one of its greatest sons today. Legendary musician & composer, loving husband, father, and grandfather, Dennis David Kama­­kahi, passed away at the Queens Medical Center at 4:30 p.m. After his battle with cancer, he was surrounded by family and close friends, with the background filled with the music of Gabby Pahi­nui and The Sons of Hawaii. We cried, we prayed, we laughed, we sang for him his many songs that he wrote and also favorites of his own.”

Reached via a telephone number on the team­den­nis­kama­kahi.com website, which had been used to promote a benefit concert for Kama­kahi on March 31, David Kama­kahi declined to confirm his father’s death Monday.

In the Facebook posting, the family asked for privacy and noted that any updates would be posted on the website.

Kamakahi’s friends, family and fans reacted swiftly to the news of his death on a variety of social media sites.

Singer Amy Hanai­ali‘i tweeted, ”I am so sad to hear of the passing of my dear cousin Dennis Kama­kahi. He will always be an inspiration to me, in mele, true aloha and hawaiian (sic) spirituality. May our ancestors carry you to your peaceful place with Akua … love you cousin.”

A renowned slack-key guitar player and prolific songwriter, Kama­kahi garnered numerous recognitions in a career spanning more than four decades. He contributed to three Grammy Award-winning recordings (“Legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar” in 2007, “Treasures of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar” in 2008 and “The Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar” in 2010) and won six Na Hoku Hano­­hano Awards.

Kamakahi’s seminal work with the Sons of Hawaii (he replaced Gabby Pahi­nui in 1974) earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts in 2009. He was inducted to the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame that same year.

Kamakahi, a Christian minister, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in March while undergoing treatment for pneumonia.

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