JEREMY KAMAKANEOALOHA HOPKINS
Jeremy, affectionately known as Kama, was born and raised in Kane‘ohe O‘ahu. Kama graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 1991. For years, he has been a pre-school teacher at the Punana Schools at Kawaiaha‘o in Downtown Honolulu and Ko‘olaupoko in Kahuku.
Asking Kama Hopkins what influenced him to pursue his passion for traditional Hawaiian music is like asking a drop of rain why it falls. Kama was born into a family where, through generations, everyone has danced hula and has sung and played the old standards of Hawaiian music. It’s in the blood. Of course it didn’t hurt him to grow up in the fertile musical environs of the Kamehameha Schools, honing his voice with the Concert Glee Club, or to cut his professional performance teeth on the Hawaiian Islands stage at the Polynesian Cultural Center.x
So really, what are some of the most important influences in Kama’s music? Well, outside the family, think barbershop quartet four-part harmony, the rhythm and bounce of Big Band music, operatic drama and vocal power, jazz intricacies, showtune melodrama, and the vocal impressions of legendary crooners such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Dean Martin. Okay, from inside the family, think Aunty Lei (Genoa Keawe) and Uncle Tony Bee. Now blend all of these together and what do you get? Listen to Kama sing and play. That’s what you get. No doubt too, the other members of Holunape will readily confirm that Kama has an enormous repertoire of music.
Although he does play guitar and bass, Kama’s instrument of choice remains the `ukulele. He began to play it seriously at PCC, and thanks to Keola’s encouragement, continues to study `ukulele with great diligence. The voice he contributes to Holunape runs in a range from a rich baritone to a smooth gentle falsetto in the style of his Uncle Sam Aiko.
Finally then . . . to share. Perhaps this may be the verb that best sums up Kama Hopkins. From his family heritage, to the Kamehameha Schools, to the Polynesian Cultural Center—all of these are lived and loved sharing experiences for him. Just as he would rather sweat blood to pound poi that you can partake of with him, so too would he gladly share his love for music with you. Kama Hopkins is very much like one of those drops of rain, ready to fall and to nourish, again and again, because that’s what it must do.