PBS Hawaii Presents
Keola Beamer & Friends: Bridging Worlds Through Music

Keola Beamer & Friends

 

Keola Beamer is one of Hawaii's premier singer/songwriters, arrangers, composers and master of the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. He draws his traditions and inspiration from five generations of Hawaii's most illustrious musical family.

 

"There was an interesting occurence that brought me to the idea of this project; and that was 9/11 - the day the towers fell.

My wife Moana and I were in San Francisco and I was on a concert tour. Of course, immediately, all the events that we had were canceled. There was nothing happening; all the professional athletics were canceled, the ballet, the symphony, everything was shut down. If was quite a fearful time in the world.

This continued for a couple of days, and we got a call from the concert promoter. And the promoter said, 'You know, Keola, this is kind of strange, but the audience wants to be together; they still want to have something. We're not gonna have everything that we planned, but maybe we could just do something; combine the different acts that were scheduled to perform during this weekend and have a way for people to be together. '"

 
     
 

"'There was kind of an outpouring of people that just wanted to join together somehow, maybe to escape the fear, or maybe to try to generate some love in the world instead of anger and hate.' And so we said, 'Okay, let's try it.' So we came to the performance with a diverse group of artists.

One was a religious figure, a Shinto priest. And there were Asian storytellers, and Moana and myself. And of course, we didn't really have a chance to rehearse anything, or think about things. But at the end of the program we all decided that we would use our diverse set of skills to tell a story. And in this particular case, it was a Hawaiian piece that Moana and I had brought forth for this event.

And so we were joined by the Shinto priest and the Asian storytellers, and there was a lot of beauty in this idea of people from diverse cultures, with their diverse skill sets, coming together to embrace a story. It was a very powerful, compelling moment for me. I sensed the mysticism of it - the strength and the idea of diversity and harmony."

This epiphany led Keola to inter-cultural collaborations with musicians like R. Carlos Nakai and Geoffrey Keezer that evolved into CD projects and now a PBS Hawaii special.

"When I introduced a sort of thematic storytelling concept to R. Carlos Nakai or Geoffrey, I knew that in their hearts, they were thinking, you know, 'How can I elevate this idea, how can I help tell the story? What do I have that I can bring into the picture?'

Because they're both so gifted, I think the results are obvious, you know. The material becomes transcendent. It's different. It's nice. Aloha is born."

 

 

"Keola Beamer & Friends: Bridging Worlds Through Music" was co-produced by Robert Pennybacker and Michael Harris, with Harris serving as director. Derek Hoppe was the associate producer and Glenn Yamamoto was the director of photography. Sound recording and mixing was done by Gaylor Holomalia, and the editor was Mike Powell. The production was made possible through a grant from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.

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