Ho’okena continues to share their love of Hawaiian music with thousands

Ho’okena continues to share their love of Hawaiian music with thousands

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - What do a post office sorter, a shipyard worker, and an instrument craftsman have in common?

They make the award-winning band Ho’okena.

For more than 30 years, Ho’okena ― comprised of Horace Dudoit III, Chris Kamaka, and Glen Smith ― has been producing hits like “Keokea Paka,” “The Prayer” and “He Wahine U’i."

For them, Hawaiian music is much more than just one type of music genre.

As part of an ongoing digital series, Hawaii News Now is profiling musicians making a big impact in the Hawaiian music scene. Got a suggestion for a profile? Email us.

Ho'okena performs hula grill at Kani Ka Pila Grille

“Hawaiian music is really important to the culture. In fact, besides the language, the music helps to elaborate more on the stories of what was told or what is being written today,” said Dudoit, the band’s co-founder. “It’s going to take us into the future, along with the songs and the stories from the songs.”

Together, Ho’okena has produced 12 albums, won four Na Hoku Hanohano awards, and been nominated for two Grammy awards.

They’ve have also made some appearances in other hit songs. In 2015, Ho’okena joined country star Josh Turner to record, “My Hawaiian Girl,” a catchy song about falling in love with a Polynesian woman.

Ho'okena performs "My Hawaiian Girl" at Kani Ka Pila Grille

Although each member of the group is equally impressive in performing music, they also have very ordinary side jobs.

Kamaka is the bassist in the band, well-known for being part of the family-owned business Kamaka ‘Ukulele Hawaii Inc. The business was established in 1916 and prides itself on its traditionally-made ukuleles.

Kamaka has performed and recorded with several other bands, most recently with the group Hema Pa’a.

Smith, a slack key guitarist, not only performs with Ho’okena but also works at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. He began his career as a musician in 1982 with the group KA EO, which would go on to win the Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Song of the Year, “From My Heart.”

Smith and the members of KA EO still perform regularly today.

Dudoit, meanwhile, is a co-founder of the group and also one of the lead vocalists.

He has performed and arranged music on three other Grammy-nominated albums and has worked with several well-known artists, including Mark Hoomalu, who is perhaps best known for his music in Walt Disney’s “Lilo and Stitch.”

Aside from his impressive music resume, Dudoit works for the U.S. Postal Service, as a machine sorter ― a job he’s been doing since 1986.

Hookena performs at Kani Ka Pila Grille

Recently, Dudoit underwent an operation to have 10 polyps taken out of his nose ― a surgery that has left him with some lingering pain.

Although it is hard to sing, Dudoit says, his passion for music keeps him going.

“So you know when you love what you’re doing you don’t care. If you can do it then you are going to do it," said Dudoit.

The band continues to share their love for Hawaiian music today with thousands of fans, and they don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

“To all the Ho’okena fans, mahalo nui for all of the years of support … 32 years this year,” said Dudoit. “Keep it going and we’ll keep it going.”

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