For those of you who attended our Tribute to my Kumu (teacher), Uncle Sonny Chillingworth, one of the great legends of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar, it was a night that will always be remembered with great joy. We were surrounded by the musicians who, in each their own way, have a special connection to Sonny; our music blended together to reanimate his famous (as well as those rare hidden gem) songs for an audience of dedicated Hawaiian music fans and ‘ohana.
I have played Kī Hō’alu for 26 years. I have been blessed to learn from not only Sonny, but Bobby Moderow Jr, my first Kumu (protégé of Nanakuli master Raymond Kane), as well as to be in the presence of other master practitioners like Ledward Ka’apana and Cyril Pahinui. I have dedicated my life to this art, both reaching deep into its root structure to nourish through repetition and mimicking, as well as stretching high into the sky to extend new branches in innovation, recognizing that “tradition” is indeed a living entity. The Tribute to Sonny was a culmination of my quarter-century homage to my Kupuna (those who came before me).
I will continue to be a lifelong proponent of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar; only now, I will delve deeper into my own creativity as a slack key practitioner, so that I may fulfill my “kuleana” (responsibility and right) in growing the girth of the “kumu” (secondary meaning: trunk) of this great tree of knowledge so that future generations will know Kī Hō’alu is no relic, but rather, a LIVING CULTURAL EXPRESSION!
Enjoy these photos (click link below) by Evan Tector of our concert last week at Hawai’i Theatre and “stay tuned” for more music… like Bobby always says: “Mo’ Betta Slack ‘Um!”
A hui hou,