Singer/songwriter Keola Beamer, one of Hawai’i’s premier composers, was awarded a 2014 NACF Artist Fellowship in Music.
The celebrated slack key guitar master has continuously expanded the boundaries and audiences for Hawaiian music while working to pass his skills on to next generations. Descended from a well-loved family of musicians, Beamer published the first instruction book for learning the art of slack key shortly after releasing his debut recording in 1972. He was one of the first musicians to incorporate chants and Native Hawaiian instruments in slack key compositions, and has collaborated with musicians as diverse as country songwriter Willie Nelson and jazz pianist Geoffrey Keezer. While writing hits like “Honolulu City Lights” and performing, he began teaching students from a shop in Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu and now offers a variety of manuals and instruction videos on learning slack key.
Beamer has gone on to record more than 20 albums and win several Hoku Awards. In 2005, he released “Our Beloved Land,” a collaboration featuring unique compositions by Beamer and Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai (Navajo/Ute). In 2011, Beamer contributed songs to “The Descendants,” the first Hollywood soundtrack exclusively scored with Hawaiian music, and released the groundbreaking recording Kahikina O Ka Hau (The Coming of the Snow), with arrangements of classical works by Stravinsky, Mendelssohn and others arranged for slack key guitar. In 2012, he released a soundtrack to the PBS Hawaii special Malama Ko Aloha (Keep Your Love).
With the support of a 2014 NACF Artist Fellowship in Music, Beamer will embark on a tour of Malama Ko Aloha and head into the studio to record his next album.