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1995 Hall of Fame Honoree

Helen Desha Beamer


Helen Desha Beamer

The musical talent of Helen Kapuailohia Desha Beamer was evident at an early age. In a faculty music report for the school year 1896-97, the Director of Music for the Kamehameha School for Girls noted "In piano music, there has been splendid advancement on the part of ... Helen Desha (a future composer and Player) ..." And, indeed, as was foretold, she did become a very accomplished musician, singer and composer.

She taught herself music notation by copying reams of piano and vocal music. Her fluency in the Hawaiian language with all its subtleties and delicate nuance enabled her to compose lyrics (poetry) which create vivid pictures of the places and people in her songs, giving the listener/reader the delightful sensation of being there in that time.

Helen was gifted with a high, clear soprano of coloratura range; her voice was most beautiful. In 1928 the first commercial recording of Charles E. King's "Ke Kali Nei Au" was produced on the Columbia Records label, featuring Helen Desha Beamer and Sam Kapu. On one occasion, while visiting at Halehuki, the Beamer residence on the island of Hawai`i, Helen's contemporary, the famed Mr. King, was playing his new composition entitled "Beautiful Kahana." He had written a violin obbligato in the accompaniment and Helen said to him "that is so beautiful, it should be sung." She sang the obbligato to his baritone melody, and so it is sung today.

Helen's love of music enveloped her household and favorably influenced her five children, all of whom became talented musicians, singers, composers and dancers. She was a teacher of the mele and hula of Hawai`i and shared her knowledge of things Hawaiian with family and friends. Most of all, Helen shared her music and her love.

Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame
P.O. Box 4717, Honolulu, HI 96812-4717
Phone: (808) 372-8921
Fax: (808) 596-8680
Email: HMHoF