In the late summer of 2011, legendary Hawaiian composer and slack key guitarist Dennis Kamakahi met with his friend and student Stephen Inglis to go over a few songs. Dennis was to be a guest artist on a solo album by Inglis. After hearing Stephenʻs composition Nā Pua O Kalaupapa, the two discovered more and more mutual connections with friends and ʻohana at Kalaupapa. The late composer/activist Bernard Punikaiʻa was a close friend of Dennis and Stephen and two of his songs were chosen to record. Inspired by the theme the album was taking on, Dennis composed two new songs about Kalaupapa. At this point it was clearly no longer a solo record and the duoʻs first joint effort; Waimaka Helelei was born.
Many a Sunday of my youth was spent at Hale Mohalu, a residential treatment facility for Hansenʻs disease patients in Pearl City on Oʻahu. By the 1970ʻs, Hale Mohalu had become a gathering place and melting pot for activists with deep concern for human rights, dignity for Hansenʻs patients, Hawaiian rights and the grand dream of world peace. This was our church. Many of my aunties and uncles who now called Hale Mohalu home had spent much of their lives in Kalaupapa. I would not realize how profound the experience of Hale Mohalu had been until I began my regular visits to Kalaupapa as a 30 year old. Waimaka Helelei is dedicated with my deepest gratitude to the people of Kalaupapa and Hale Mohalu. – Stephen Inglis 2011
I’d like to thank Nā Kupuna o Kalaupapa: My cousin Henry Nalai’elua, Ernest Kala, and Bernard Punikai‘a for the knowledge passed on to this composer, my wife Robin for being there for me, my teachers Mary Kawena Pukui, Pilahi Paki, ‘Iolani Luahine for being the foundation of my Hawaiian Studies, Eddie Kamae for being my mentor in the research of Hawaiian Music, HRM Lili’uokalani for being the guiding light in Hawaiian Poetry, St. Damien for the guiding hand to honor the people of Kalaupapa and to Ke Akua for making my life all worth living.
Dennis Kamakahi endorses Taylor Guitars & Elixir Strings
Stephen Inglis sends a huge mahalo to: Bernard Punikai‘a: I am deeply honored that you waited for me to sing you back home. You are now another bright light in the sky! St. Damien and Ke Akua for their eternal love. Clarence Naia, Catherine Puahala and all the people of Kalaupapa, past, present and forever. My wife Christa and son La‘akea: you are the sun that lights my way! My mom and dad, Wally and Kay: For your living examples of peace, justice and love of humanity. Your choice of Hale Mohalu as our church, is a gift that will never leave me. Mahalo iā ‘ōlua! Dennis Kamakahi: Your contributions to Hawaiian Music and your choice to join me on this journey are truly a gift. Mahalo iā ‘oe e ku‘u kumu! To my entire ‘ohana for your never ending love and support. Shawn Livingston Moseley and ‘ohana for your tireless labors of love. Anwei Law, Henry Law and Valerie Monson for your generous kōkua with this album. The entire Lau ‘ohana: for your faith and support in giving me a career in Kī Hō‘alu and to my brother Makana for being the bridge! Ozzie Kotani:Your knowledge, generosity and friendship are a great gift in my life. Kenneth Makuakāne and ‘ohana: Your love and friendship are a treasure. Patrick Landeza: Mahalo for starting the engine that sent me traveling down the Kī Hō‘alu highway. Cindy Combs: Eh C.C, Miss you, love you! Jerry Santos: for the inspiration to sing, write and play. My Kumu ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi: Mililani Lau, Kalae Miles and Naʻilima Gaison for all your beautiful manaʻo. Marlowe Holt for your amazing eye and talents! Betty Grierson for helping bring my real voice to life!
Stephen Inglis plays Lowden Guitars. Hand crafted in Northern Ireland