Musician Kahauanu Lake dies

Published: Mar. 7, 2011 at 9:26 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2011 at 10:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kahauanu Lake, also know as Uncle "K", passed away on Sunday, March 6 at the age of 79. A Hawaiian musician whose career spanned over 60 years, he was the leader of the Kahauanu Lake Trio. The trio consisted of Kahauanu, his brother Tommy Lake (deceased), and Al Machida (the last surviving member of the group).

Services are pending.

Beginning in the late 1950s, Lake's "swing-jazz" style of Hawaiian music was prominently seen in Waikiki for over 40 years is such venues as the Halekulani's House Without a Key, the Royal Hawaiian Surf Room and the Kaimana Beach Hotel.

The first to feature the ukulele as the lead instrument, Uncle K's left hand style of playing and his unique strumming/plucking made him a master virtuoso of the ukulele.

He recorded six albums during his lifetime; each one a cherished possession and a collector's item for their detailed liner notes by Kini Sullivan, the detailed arrangements and the tight harmony the group was noted for.

Lake's collaboration with kumu hula Maiki Aiu Lake, who married Kahauanu in 1972, created signature pieces such as Pua `Ahihi, Pua Lililehua and the hapa-haole classic Maile Lei. Together they inspired a new generation of hula practitioners and musicians.

Uncle K, was one of the founders of the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame and Saint Louis School's Hui Na Opi'o (before he turned it over to his cousin Keola Lake). He shared his musical talents and helped launch the careers of other Hawaiian artists such as George Helm in the early 1970s.

He also put together groups such as Kuliaikanu`u and the Kahauanu Lake Singers. Today, Lake's music continues to inspire hula dancers and musicians with his group's recordings.

In 2005, the group came together for the last time in a concert at Honolulu Hale and was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. Then Mayor Mufi Hannemann described the group as follows: "No other group in the history of Hawaiian music has endured the test of time; as the music of the Kahauanu Lake Trio is ageless and still very much in demand in Hawai'i and all over the world."

Uncle K's last public performance was in 2009 in a four-island concert tour sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and Hawai'i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. The concert tour was produced by kumu hula Michael Pili Pang and included Lake's musical achievements along with the choreography of his wife.

Although Lake has no biological children, his hanai children are: George Helm (deceased), Gordon (Janice) Umi Kai, Walter Kawaiae'a, Luana Kawaiae'a, and Michael Pili Pang; numerous nieces and nephews from his brother Tommy Lake, sister Nani Chang and cousin Keola Lake.

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