Keola Beamer is a recognized master of Hawaiian artistic expression and is a member of one of Hawaii's most illustrious and beloved musical families. In traditional Hawaiian society, aliÿi (royalty) recognized that sounded words possess mana (spiritual power). They encouraged musical expression as a way to preserve information and communicate with one another and the gods.
Keola has played guitar, piano, and ÿ ohe hano ihu (Hawaiian nose flute) since he was very young. He studied hula and sang in glee clubs while attending Kamehameha School , a school for children of Hawaiian ancestry. Keola attended Goddard College in Plainfield , Vermont . He was an active teacher of kï hö alu (slack key guitar) in the 1970s and compiled the first comprehensive teaching manual on the subject, Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar. His contributions to slack key during the 70s began to spark public interest in kï hö alu, launching a statewide revival of the tradition. His teaching continues today with extensive seminars on the island of Hawaii in which guitarists and dancers from all over the world gather in an extended ÿohana format that the Beamers have called “The Aloha Music Camps.”
Keola views this immersion-style method as a way to responsibly share the traditions of music and dance within a cultural context. Keola is especially noted for his ability to recontextualize ancient Hawaiian mele (songs) into contemporary settings in which he has created a style uniquely his own.
Keola Beamer’s live concert performances embody the magical otherworldliness of this melodic language of dreams. His unique and polished style of musicianship skillfully accentuates the stories that his songs tell about the culture and the experience of being Hawaiian in a contemporary world. The repertoire he presents is a three-dimensional experience, combining the elements of mele (song), hula (dance), and oli (chant) with native percussion instruments and Hawaiian folklore.