Concert to benefit Hawaiian music legend Dennis Kamakahi - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Concert to benefit Hawaiian music legend Dennis Kamakahi

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Dennis Kamakahi is now in the fight of his life. Just three weeks ago, the legendary Hawaiian composer and musician was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. His friends in the music community have quickly come together to help.

Kamakahi is well-known for songs like "Koke`e," "Wahine `Ilikea" and many more. He's also a multiple Grammy and Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner. But now he's at the Queen's Medical Center undergoing chemotherapy.

His fight against cancer began on March 10, when he was diagnosed with the cancer after being admitted for pneumonia.

"He didn't flinch," said his son, David Kamakahi. "He was totally fearless about it. He was like, 'Hope, we're gonna fight it.'"

Kamakahi is also making his experience public, posting pictures and updates on his condition on his Facebook page, in order to help others in the fight against cancer.

"What he wants to do is go into schools and talk about cancer, and how importanat it is for early detection," said David Kamakahi. "And he wants basically for anybody, if something's wrong with your body, please see your doctor."

David Kamakahi said his father began developing a lingering cough last December. Then he lost his appetite and started feeling fatigued.

The news of Kamakahi's condition has spread rapidly through the Hawaiian music community. A benefit concert to help defray medical expenses was organized at a special "Pakele Live" program at the Willows Restaurant for Monday, March 31st -- Kamakahi's 61st birthday.

The event has drawn a "Who's Who" list of musicians who wanted to perform, including Kahulanui, Mark Yamanaka, Maunalua, Raiatea Helm, Na Hoa, and Waipuna.

"We couldn't take all the requets, just because there so many people and so many hours in a day in which to do this. So this says a lot about our community overall and the love for Dennis," said Pakele creator Pali Kaaihue, who's also president of the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts. 

Kaaihue also noted Kamakahi's huge impact on Hawaiian music. "Just about anyone who's played, you know, contemporary Hawaiian music, or just jammed in a backyard type of situation that they probably played a song of Dennis'."

"I know already, deep in his heart, what he's going through is tough. It's rough for everybody going through this," said longtime friend and musician Cyril Pahinui. "I think he wil make it."

David Kamakahi said it's still not known which type of lung cancer his father has. But his family and so many others are behind him no matter what.

"We know we can't fight for you, this cancer, but we can fight with you. We're here, and we love you. And that's it."


The benefict concert is being held Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Willows Restaurant. Admission is free, but the Willows is donating 20 percent of its buffet sales to the fundraiser. There also will be a silent auction of items, including a collection of Kamakahi's sheet music, signed by him.

There's already a waiting list for those who want to attend in person, but the concert will be streamed live online.

More details on the concert, livestream and auction items at


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