Fri, 28 August 2009
Solomon "Sonny" Kamahele Jr. was born on August 28, 1921. Sonny had one of the most illustrious careers in Hawaiian music - in Honolulu as a member of the Hawaiian Village Serenaders backing Alfred Apaka and Hilo Hattie and as a regular member of the Hawaii Calls radio broadcasts and recording sessions, as well as in Hollywood with Sam Koki at the Seven Seas, on MGM Records with Pua Almeida, and with Harry Owens' Orchestra both on television and in a number of movies.
Sonny sang in both his beautiful baritone voice - often reaching the lowest bass notes humanly possible, just for kicks! - as well as an ethereal falsetto. He was also the master of every instrument in the Hawaiian band - specializing in guitar, 'ukulele, and steel guitar - but was most in demand for his rhythm guitar work.
Sonny's career was chronicled by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin on the occasion of his retirement from the Halekulani Hotel's House Without A Key in 2003 - shortly before his passing. For a brief overview of his life and work and a sample of Sonny's various talents, listen to this edition of Ho'olohe Hou.
All above selections out of print.
Although regrettably all of Sonny's solo recordings from the 1950's through the 1990's are no longer available, you can still catch glimmers of his genius on a number of available recordings by groups whose presence Sonny graced. This includes most recordings by Hawaii Calls and two supergroups - The New Hawaiian Band and The Maile Serenaders, groups that were studio experiments but which never performed live. One of my favorites is "Let's Hula" by The Maile Serenaders which features Sonny Kamahele, Nina Keali'iwahamana, Sonny Nicholas, and the steel guitar of Joe Custino. This recording is available as a beautifully remastered CD from Hula Records.
If you would like to hear more of Sonny Kamahele's beautiful recordings that are no longer available, send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.