Legendary composer and performer Eddit Kamae has passed away peacefully today with his wife by his side his famous song, ‘E Ku’u Morning Dew’ playing in the background.
Eddie was born in 1927 and spent his whole life on the Hawaiian Islands. His grandmother was a dancer for King David Kalakaua’s court. He strongly believed that the Hawaiian culture should be taught and celebrated through music and through his dedication to the cause, he became a key figure in the Hawaiian cultural renaissance.
He famously taught himself how to play the ukulele after his brother found the instrument abandoned on a bus and bought it home with him. He was so gifted that he formed a band with Shoi Ikemi in the 1940’s named ‘The Ukulele Rascals’ before joining the Ray Kinney band in the 1950s as a ukulele soloist. He later went on to co-found the infamous ‘Sons of Hawaii’ and recorded 14 albums with the band. It was around this time that he rejected all non-Hawaiian music, inspired by his father’s only request, that he ‘sing and play Hawaiian music’.
His mastery of the Ukulele was unique and he developed his own technique of plucking all four strings simultaneously, giving him the ability to play the melody and chords at the same time. Although famous amongst his countrymen, he valued his privacy, choosing to live amongst tourists on the islands, hiding in plain sight because nobody could find him there.
He made it his morning ritual to greet the local birds and then drive out to the diamond head of Waikiki where he would talk to the ocean by saying the famous greeting “Aloha” (love, affection and kindness). Later in his life he took up filmmaking to document and preserve authentic Hawaiian cultural continuity.
He received nearly 50 honors, awards and tributes throughout his life, including being designated as a “Living Treasure of Hawaii”. In 2007 he was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. He was credited as a pioneer of the resurgence of Hawaiian music and will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered.