Keola Beamer (b. Keolamaikalani Breckenridge Beamer) is a master of Hawaiian slack key guitar playing. The composer of "Honolulu City Lights," one of Hawaii's top-selling songs of all time, Beamer was one of the first to blend traditional Hawaiian chants and instruments with contemporary influences. Representing the fifth generation of musicians in his family, Beamer traces his roots back to King Kamehemeha and Queen Ahiakumai, 15th century rulers of Hawaii. Beamer's great grandmother, Helen Dasher Beame (1882-1952), was one of Hawaii's most prolific songwriters and an influential hula dancer. Beamer, who began his career accompanying dancers at his mother's hula studio in Honolulu, recorded many songs composed by his ancestors. After studying classical guitar in high school and college, Beamer taught private students and wrote a method book, Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, that was based on a 16th century tablature system for the lute.
Beamer's debut album, Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar in the Real Old Style, was released in 1972. Although his first ten albums were released on small independent labels and distributed only in Hawaii, Beamer has widened his following since 1994. His albums Wooden Boat, Moe'uhane Kika: Tales from the Dream Guitar, and Mauna Kea: White Mountain Journal were released on George Winston's Windham Hill-distributed label Dancing Cat and all attained positions on Billboard's Top World Music Albums chart. Beamer's fourth album on Dancing Cat, Kolonahe: From the Gentle Wind, was released in April 1999. Island Born appeared in 2001, followed by Soliloquy: Ka Leo O Loko in 2002 and Mohala Hou: Music of the Hawaiian Renaissance in 2003. Hawaii's Keola and Kapono Beamer was issued in 2008, with Keola Beamer and Raiatea, an album with Raiatea Helm, arriving in 2010. Malama Ko Aloha (Keep Your Love) was issued in 2012. Beamer resides in the old whaling town of Lahaina on the island of Maui. ~ Craig Harris