Hokea, Ben (1898 - 1971)

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Hokea, Ben (1898 - 1971)

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Dates of existence

1898 - 1971

History

Ben Hokea is credited as the steel guitarist "who had the most impact on Hawaiian music's acceptance in Canada." Born in Hawaii, after a gig playing on a cruise line, he toured with Charlie Clark's Royal Hawaiians. The group played in Toronto for several years, beginning in 1915, and Hokea remained in the city afterwards. Hokea was a music educator and performer, and appeared both on radio and television.

Hokea's public performances in Toronto date back to at least 1918, when he performed at Massey Hall in a variety show.

His first known commercial recording was released in December 1919 by His Master's Voice Records as part of their January 1920 lineup. Hokea, Luther Hokea and Richard Hokea recorded three trial records for Victor in Camden, New Jersey, 1917. (University of California's Santa Barbara Library Discography of American Historical Recordings) He is known to have released records with Victor, Columbia, and Starr Co. of Canada.

As of 1925, Hokea operated a photography studio at 195 Yonge St, Toronto. This may be how he met Cecil A. Chinn, creator of the records relating to Hokea at the Region of Peel Archives. Chinn toured with Hokea in the 1940s around southern Ontario, including Owen Sound, as part of "Ben Hokea's Orchestra".

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CA: RPA

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Region of Peel Archives

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Sources

  • Lorene Ruymar, "The Hawaiian Steel Guitar and Its Great Hawaiian Musicians" (1996)
  • The Globe, various issues

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  • EAC

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