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I remember when I first met Uncle Eddie at Ala Moana Center. I was a member of the Honolulu Boys Choir and we were doing a Christmas concert at center stage with the Sons of Hawai’i. I introduced myself to him and he said to me, “Nice to meet you! How’s dad?”
Through the years of learning, practicing, and hearing great stories from my father, I can truly say that if it wasn’t for Eddie Kamae, my father wouldn’t be where he is today, and I wouldn’t be playing the ‘ukulele at all. Uncle Eddie, thank you for sharing your music, knowledge, wisdom, and your love with my father and me!
Herb Ohta, Jr.
Edward Leilani Kamae was born on August 4, 1927. When he was 14 years old, his brother found a ‘ukulele on the bus and brought it home. That’s when it all started. In 1946, after his discharge from the Army, Eddie began to take the ‘ukulele very seriously.
After studying music theory with University of Hawai’i Professor Barbara Smith, Eddie tackled difficult classical arrangements. He then teamed with musical partner Shoi Ikemi and called themselves the ‘Ukulele Rascals.
In 1960, Eddie was joined by Slack-key guitar legend Gabby Pahinui, Upright Bass player Joe Marshall, and Steel Guitarist David “Feet” Rogers to form the Sons of Hawai’i.
Eddie has done many recordings: A few recordings featuring his ‘ukulele wizardry, and many recordings with the Son’s of Hawai’i.
Today, Eddie and his wife Myrna, produce and direct documentaries to preserve the Hawaiian language, music, history, and culture. Eddie Kamae is truly a “living treasure of Hawai’i,” and a “living treasure to the world of the ‘ukulele.”
Note: This profile was written by Herb Ohta, Jr. with blessings from Eddie Kamae *Some information gathered from “The ‘Ukulele, A Visual History” by Jim Beloff
*Photo taken from “‘Ukulele Masters in Japan 1960 – 1964”