Hawaiian Music Masters Join The Descendants

Various Artists - Music from the motion picture The Descendants
Various Artists

Music from the motion picture The Descendants (Sony Masterworks, 2011)

The Descendants is the new movie featuring George Clooney. The film takes place in Hawaii and the director chose to use music by well-known Hawaiian musicians. Unlike other movie scores that need the visual component to be complete, the CD works out perfectly by itself. The artists selected include a wide range of traditional and modern musicians. The list is impressive: Gabby Pahinui, Ray Kane, Keola Beamer, Lena Machado, Sonny Chillingworth, Jeff Peterson, and Rev. Dennis Kamakahi.

The Hawaiian vocals and instrumental slack key guitar (Hawaiian style guitar) passages on The Descendants create the picture-perfect atmosphere to immerse the movie-goers into the soul of Hawaiian culture.

The Descendants, from Fox Searchlight Pictures, is a tragicomedy directed by Alexander Payne, the creator of the Oscar-winning film Sideways. The movie features Matt King (George Clooney) an unconcerned husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-assess his past and change course with his life when his wife suffers a boating misfortune off of Waikiki (Oahu’s leading hotel and resort area and a lively gathering place for tourists). The accident leads to reconciliation with his young daughters while Matt struggles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.

The Descendants is based on Kaui Hart Hemmings’ much-admired novel of the same name. Hemmings, who is from Hawaii, incorporates into her writing the island themes of family, soil and heritage. The sounds of Hawaii featured on the album play an essential role in evoking an authentic mood.

The soundtrack of The Descendants is an excellent introduction to the various forms of music from Hawaii and will take movie-goers back to a notable film.


1. Ka Makani Ka’ili Aloha – Gabby Pahinui
2. Kalena Kai – Keola Beamer and George Winston
3. Hi’ilawe – Gabby Pahinui
4. ‘Ulili E – Rev. Dennis Kamakahi
5. Ka Loke – Makaha Sons with Dennis Pavao
6. Auwe – Ray Kane
7. Leahi – Gabby Pahinui
8. Hawaiian Skies – Jeff Peterson
9. He’eia – Gabby Pahinui and Sons of Hawaii
10. ‘Imi Au Ia ‘Oe – Keola Beamer
11. Kaua’i Beauty – Gabby Pahinui
12. Hi’ilawe – Sonny Chillingworth
13. Wai O Ke Aniani – Gabby Pahinui
14. Paka Ua – Ozzie Kotani and Daniel Ho
15. Hapuna Sunset – Charles Michael Brotman
16. Deep in an Ancient Hawaiian Forest – Makana
17. Mom – Lena Machado
18. Ka Mele Oku’u Pu’Uwai – Sol Hoopii’s Novelty Trio

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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