As reported in the Fall'03 issue, the entire Advisory Selection Board of Haunani Apoliona, Mahiai Beamer, Nina Keali`iwahamana, Aaron Mahi, and Harry Soria, meeting without "K" Lake, their chairman, unanimously voted him into the 2004 Hall of Fame. When he objected, Nina told him "you don't get to vote this time."
Depending on the nature of the relationship, Kahauanu Lake is variously referred to as "Uncle K", "Mister K", or just plain "K", as we who serve Hawaiian Music Foundation call him.
Aside from his contributions to the preservation, perpetuation and promotion of classic Hawaiian music (the stated mission of Hawaiian Music Foundation), Kahauanu Lake's personal history reaches all the way back to Kamehameha I. His mother, Cecelia Kuliaikanu`u Parker was a 7th generation descendent of this celebrated warrior king, who after bringing all the Islands under one rule, established Hawai`i's first government and its laws.
"K" taught himself to play `ukulele by watching other musicians. He and Prince David Kalakaua Kawananakoa, his stepfather, would play together. With college in California and service in the Korean War behind him, Kahauanu Lake organized the "Kahauanu Lake Trio" in 1955. The performance and recording output of this group is history. From Waikiki's Halekulani and Kaimana Beach hotels to the Surf Room at the Royal Hawaiian, "K"s contemporary arrangements and musical phrasing of traditional Hawaiian songs for the Trio became a benchmark for many groups that followed, and stimulated the return of singing in the Hawaiian language. A perfectionist at heart, he turned to his mentor, Kawena Pukui for correct wordings and pronunciations.
Much of Kahauanu Lake's musical arrangement was for hula. This, from his long performance association with the late Margaret Ma`iki, reknowned Kumu Hula, which relationship culminated in marriage in 1972. Many of his compositions are still danced by hula halaus, and the Trio recordings of them have long been standards. Among his best known songs, to be found on Hula Records recordings of the Trio, are "Pua Lililehua", written for Ma`iki; "Pualeilani", for Prince Kuhio; "Mauna `Ala" for his stepfather, and both "Ka Wa Kahiko" and "Hole Waimea `Elua" for Kamehameha I, and "Kuliaikanu`u" for his mother.
Since 1981, prestigious Hawaiian culture awards have been many for "K"s life long contributions to Hawaiian music culture. In 1989 he received both the Na Hoku Hanohano "Lifetime Achievement" award and the David Malo award (from the West Honolulu Rotary Club for distinguished community service.)
In 1995, the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame chose him to chair its Hall of Fame Advisory Board. From that date forward he has directed and produced our public concerts, co-chaired the Events & Programs committee, and produced CD's, with Hula Records. He and his brother Tommy still accompany the "The Kahauanu Lake Singers", the group "K" formed to carry on the perpetuation of classic Hawaiian music.
Needless to say, if the Hall of Fame Advisory Board had not selected Kahauanu Lake to honor at some point, the Board of Directors might have attempted to intervene and recommend this living legend of Hawaiian music. The Directors would have been rebuffed, however.
Selecting Hall of Fame honorees using rigorous criteria, is the sole responsibility of this advisory group of entertainment celebrities. Their own personal roots reach far back in our Islands' music culture. We are privileged that they have chosen to participate in telling the stories of Hawai`i's historic music notables.