Royal Hawaiian Band honors a legendary Hawaiian music bandmaster

By Ann Sterling
Published On: Mar 31 2014 08:19:09 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 31 2014 08:30:51 PM HST

He was internationally known for his style of Hawaiian music and was also a bandmaster for the Royal Hawaiian Band.

HONOLULU -

70 years after his death, Mekia Kealaka'i was remembered at a special ceremony Monday.

He was internationally known for his style of Hawaiian music and was also a bandmaster for the Royal Hawaiian Band.

He was one of the most famous Hawaiian musicians of all time and at Diamond Head Memorial Park, the Royal Hawaiian Band honored Mekia by playing music composed by the legend himself.

"I got goose bumps at almost every single song," said Clark Bright, bandmaster of the Royal Hawaiian Band. "To think I got to come back for a gentleman who gave so much to Hawaiian music through his abilities and allow me to take part of this music. It gave me goosebumps. It really did."

Mekia died on March, 21, 1944. Until now, he was buried at an unmarked grave at Diamond Head Memorial Park.

"We're not sure exactly why," said Antoinette Lee, president of the Friends of the Royal Hawaiian Band. "The key was to match his wife's [headstone] because we didn't want it to look like an afterthought. So, it's very close to matching his wife's headstone. We are so glad to come and we are all connected -- Mekia and to the band itself.

Mekia was voted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame and became an international influence of Hawaiian music. Mekia's 'ohana at the Royal Hawaiian Band say he will never be forgotten.

"Not always easy to perform in the rain, but the weather held out. I think what a blessing from above to thank us for a man that gave so much, and to see all the people here to honor him and what he gave to Hawaiian music. It's a joy," said ____. "He was with the band for 40 years. How much dedication is that?"

Friends of the Royal Hawaiian Band have started a scholarship fund in Mekia's name.

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