John Kameaaloha Almeida
A prolific composer of 300 songs, many of them Hawaiian language "standards" today, John K. Almeida was ranked among the top composers of Hawaiian songs. He was regarded as Hawai`i's premier blind musician. His defective eyesight from birth and blindness by age ten were determined to be the result of the poisonous maile bush sap. His mother had no time to cleanse her hands before delivering him, alone, on a Pauoha Valley hillside, where she was gathering fragrant maile for leis on the day he was born.
At age four, Johnny Almeida was already active in church and school choirs and organized his own "Waianae Star Glee Club" at age 15. (This group later became "Johnny Almeida's Hawaiians.") As a vocalist, his falsetto voice has been described as "one of the sweetest and highest". He thrilled audiences with his clear high G and A in such solo favorites as "Wahine U`i" and "Waikapu".
Throughout his long career, he was almost never without a band of his own, and as an instrumentalist had few peers. Considered probably the last of the Hawaiian mandolin players, Johnny Almeida had also mastered `ukulele, guitar, steel guitar, string bass and piano by the time he was 25. From 1922-1927, he was chief musician on Matson Lines ships sailing between Hawai`i and the West Coast, and in the 1930s hosted a popular Hawaiian music half hour on Honolulu's KGU radio.
It was through his radio shows that he was given the title "Dean of Hawaiian Music". He used radio effectively to discover new talent, and was instrumental in launching the careers of singers Bill Lincoln and Genoa Keawe, and steel guitarists Billy Hew Len and David Keli`i. Johnny Almeida also left his mark as a teacher and recording artist for 49th State Records, a company he helped to form.
Today, Johnny Almeida is best remembered for his characteristically Hawaiian melodies. He said his song ideas came to him in dreams at night, or when he was outdoors. The popular "Green Rose Hula", "Green Carnation", "Panini Pua Kea" and "Noho Paipai" were written for hula. Other songs, now standards, are "Maile Swing", "A `Oia" and "Ku`uipo Pua Rose". He wrote many songs about flowers (for he loved beauty and beautiful women).