Overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy

For January’s Hawaiian history moment of the month, let’s learn about the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.


On January 17, 1893, the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown by armed American businessmen (not local Hawaiians) in a bloodless coup.

DID YOU KNOW Hawai’i is the only state in the union to have had a monarchy and a royal palace you can visit today? King Kamehameha the Great unified the islands into the Kingdom of Hawai’i in 1810 and it lasted 83 years until the overthrow by non-Hawaiians.

On January 17, 1893, the Kingdom of Hawai’i was overthrown by armed American businessmen and sugar planters in a bloodless coup.  A small group of men under Sanford Dole overthrew Queen Lili’uokalani, the Hawaiian monarch, and established a new provincial government with Dole as president. John Stevens, the U.S. minister to Hawai’i knew about the coup ahead of time, and 300 U.S. Marines from a warship were in Honolulu harbor to allegedly protect American lives.

Queen Lili’uokalani, had tried to establish a new constitution to restore the power she had lost when her brother King Kalākaua was forced to sign the Bayonet Constitution of 1887 that diminished the Native Hawaiian’s voice in government. However, the American businessmen did not want the Queen to succeed. Thus, to this “superior force of the United States of America,” Queen Lili’uokalani yielded her throne, under protest, in order to avoid bloodshed, trusting that the United States government would right the wrong that had been done to her and the Hawaiian people.[1] That did not happen.

“President Grover Cleveland sent a new U.S. minister to Hawai’i to restore Queen Lili’uokalani to the throne under the 1887 constitution, but Dole refused to step aside and instead proclaimed the independent Republic of Hawai’i. Cleveland was unwilling to overthrow the government by force, and his successor, President William McKinley, negotiated a treaty with the Republic of Hawai’i in 1897. In 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out, and the strategic use of the naval base at Pearl Harbor during the war convinced Congress to approve formal annexation. Two years later, Hawai’i was organized into a formal U.S. territory and in 1959 entered the United States as the 50th state”.[2]

Today you can tour Iolani Palace, the only official royal residence in the United States. “Built in 1882 by King Kalakaua, Iolani Palace was the home of Hawai’i’s last reigning monarchs and served as the official royal residence and the residence of the Kingdom’s political and social life until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.

Registered as a National Historic Landmark since 1962 and the only official royal residence in the United States, the Palace is one of the most recognizable buildings in Hawai’i. Meticulously restored to its former grandeur, Iolani Palace tells of a time when their Majesties, King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Lili’uokalani walked the grand halls.”[3]

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

[1] https://www.hawaii-nation.org/soa.html
[2] http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/americans-overthrow-hawaiian-monarchy
[3] http://www.iolanipalace.org/

Mele Kalikimaka is December’s Song of the Month


R. Alex Anderson composed Mele Kalikimaka in 1949. This hapa haole song is Hawai’i’s popular Christmas song.

Did you know that the ancient Hawaiians did not celebrate Christmas until after the arrival of the missionaries? Christmas occurred during the Makahiki, the four month period of resting and feasting when ancient Hawaiians honored the earth for giving them plenty to eat. No conflicts or wars were allowed during this time. After the Hawaiian embraced Christianity, it was only natural that they adapted some of the traditions of Makahiki to the celebration of Christmas.

The greeting Merry Christmas was difficult for the Hawaiians to pronounce because English language sounds like “R” in the word merry did not exist in the Hawaiian language. Thus, Mele Kalikimaka is not a literal translation but simply how we say Merry Christmas in Hawai’i.

R. Alex Anderson composed Hawai’i’s popular Christmas song “Mele Kalikimaka” in 1949. He was born in Honolulu in 1884 and composed nearly 200 songs before his death in 1995. As the story goes, in 1949 Anderson was in his office in Honolulu when his secretary, a woman from the mainland, mentioned that she had never heard a Hawaiian Christmas song. Thus, he composed Mele Kalikimaka and it became an enduring classic. Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters made one of the earliest recordings on 78 rpm and 45 rpm phonograph records in 1950.

‘Ukulele players can learn to play my arrangement of Mele Kalikimaka for free!

This hapa haole song (Hawaiian style music with English words) is arranged in the key of D with seven chords and uses the Hum Ding-Ah Strum for ‘ukulele. It is Hawai’i’s way to say Merry Christmas to you.


Ukulele Mele’s arrangement of “Mele Kalikimaka” uses seven chords and the Hum Ding-Ah Strum for ‘ukulele.

FREE BUNDLE gets you four downloadable files:

  • Two-page song sheets with chords and lyrics (no musical notes to read).
  • Video lesson for how to play the song.
  • Video story behind the song in keeping with Hawaiian oral history traditions.
  • Full audio recording for you to join in singing and playing along with professional musicians The Hawaiian Serenaders.

Click to download the single song lesson today!

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

November 11 in Hawaiian and American History


Hawaii’s last monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani, died on November 11, 1917.

In Hawaiian history, the date of November 11, 1917 is remembered as the day when Hawaii’s last monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani died at the age of 79 at Washington Place. Lili’uokalani became queen at age 52 upon the death of her brother, King David Kalākaua, on January 29, 1891. During her reign, Lili’uokalani tried to change the constitution of 1887 also known as the Bayonet Constitution that her brother had signed. The new constitution would return decision making power back to the way it was where the monarch could make changes without needing the cabinet’s approval, and only Hawaiian born or naturalized male subjects could vote. Several pro-American businessmen who were on the cabinet did not want the queen to make these changes to the constitution. On January 17, 1893, the two-year reign of Queen Lili’uokalani ended when her government was overthrown by pro-American forces. In 1895, Lili’uokalani was imprisoned for 9 months at Iolani Palace after a failed counter-revolution.  Lili’uokalani composed songs and began work on her memoirs that are available in print today. In 1896, the Republic of Hawaii gave Lili’uokalani a full pardon and restored her civil rights, and she returned to Washington Place to live out her days as Hawaii’s beloved queen.


Veterans Day began as Armistice Day commemorating the end of WWI on November 11, 1918

In American history, November 11, 1918 is remembered as the day when the fighting ended between the Allied nations and Germany on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, thus ending World War I. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day the following year to be celebrated with parades and public gatherings. In 1938, a Congressional Act designated November 11 as a legal holiday “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day.” In 1954, following the Korean War and World War II, Congress amended the Act of 1938 by replacing the word “Armistice” with “Veterans” to recognize American veterans of all wars.

In summary, November 11 has special significance in both Hawaiian and American history.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Review Na Lani Eha Sing-Along Program 2017


October’s Sing-Along with Mele Fong Series theme was “Na Lani Eha.” We sang a Hawaiian song from each of the four royal composers known collectively as Na Lani Eha, plus hapa haole songs in between.

“I’d like to take ‘ukulele lessons from you, but I am a caregiver for my mom so it’s hard for me to get away,” commented a lady after my monthly Sing-Along program. No problem. I told her to visit my website and take online lessons from home at her convenience.

New this month, we led a spontaneous play-by-ear session to “Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “My Girl” for ‘ukulele players who came early to the program. My ‘Ukulele Strumming Workshop season starts this month on October 21 at the Bailey House in Wailuku and these two songs are what we have played at past workshops because they are familiar to sing and easy to play with 3-chords of C, F, and G7.

Twenty people signed up for my monthly Sing-Along with Mele Fong Series – Na Lani Eha and more on Thursday, October 5 at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better. We sang a Hawaiian song from each of the four royal composers known collectively as Na Lani Eha, plus a hapa haole song (in English) in between. The composers were also siblings: David Kalākaua (oldest brother), Lili’uokalani (oldest sister), Miriam Likelike (younger sister), and Lot Leleiohōku (youngest) who lived in the 1800s-early 1900s. They helped to perpetuate Hawaiian music and culture and are patrons of the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame.

The “Sing-Along with Mitch Miller” format of projecting the song lyrics and ‘ukulele chords on a screen at the front of the room, and having my husband provide the u-bass line to fill in the lower tones to the higher pitched ‘ukulele worked great!

Here are the 9 songs we learned:

  1. By Kalākaua – Koni Au I Ka Wai – Hum Ding-Ah Strum.
  2. Singing Bamboo – Latin Strum.
  3. By Lili’uokalani – Sanoe – 2 Waltz Strums.
  4. Lovely Hula Hands – I Wanna Rest Strum.
  5. By Likelike – Ku’uipo I Ka He’e Pu’e One – Pick in 4/Latin Strums.
  6. Hukilau – Swing Strum.
  7. By Leleiohōku – Hawaiian War Chant – I Wanna Rest /Latin Strums.
  8. Song of Old Hawaii – Swing Strums
  9. Hawaii Aloha – Morse Code Strum.


LISTEN TO THE RECORDINGS IN THE FREE ONLINE FAN CLUB and then schedule private lessons on Maui or via webcam to get the song sheets and feedback.

DOWNLOAD A SINGLE SONG PURCHASE to your digital device. Get the song sheets, video lesson, audio recording, and video story behind the song for the song you select.

Stay tuned for the next Sing-Along with Mele Fong Series – American Classics on Thursday, November 2 at Kaunoa Senior Center.

Visit my webpage about classes at Kaunoa and see photos from past classes for more.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Na Lani Eha Songs and More For October 2017


October’s theme for Sing-Along with Mele Fong Series is “Na Lani Eha and More.” Learn songs by the four royal composers: King Kalākaua, Queen Lili’uokalani, Princess Likelike, and Prince Leleiohōku.

In celebration of the four royal composers: King Kalākaua, Queen Lili’uokalani, Princess Likelike, and Prince Leleiohōku, join us for the next Sing-Along with Mele Fong series: Na Lani Eha and More on Thursday, October 5 from 10 a.m. – noon at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better.  These four siblings were known collectively as Na Lani Eha, meaning The Royal Four. Their musical abilities and patronage of Hawai’i’s musical culture during the last half of the 1800s continues to live on today. Were it not for their cultural leadership and personal contributions in encouraging and supporting aspiring composers, singers, instrumentalists, dancers, chanters and poets, Hawai’i’s significant musical contributions to the world might not have happened.

This program is one of a monthly series that evokes the feeling of sing-along with Mitch Miller programs as the lyrics and ‘ukulele chords are projected on the large screen in the front of room for everyone to follow. ‘Ukulele players are invited to bring instruments to play along as I lead everyone by singing and playing my ‘ukulele while my husband accompanies us on ‘ukulele-bass. Don’t worry if you don’t know the ‘ukulele chords or the unique strumming pattern for the songs. The focus is on singing the songs, finding out the stories behind them, and enjoying the group experience.

Why are people returning? “It’s fun!” is what I’ve heard.

Lunch is optional and recommended as a good time to meet people who enjoy learning the Ukulele Mele Way. Kaunoa Senior Center is located in Spreckelsville, Maui.

SIGN UP NOW by calling 808-270-7308.


Other learning options with Ukulele Mele:

Whether you are a beginnerintermediate, or advanced ‘ukulele player, you can have fun learning to play the Ukulele Mele Way from wherever you live!

Aloha, Mele Fong, aka Ukulele Mele

Princess Kai’ulani – Hawai’i’s Hope for the Nation


The story of Hawai’i’s Crown Princess Ka’iulani is a tale of unfilled promise, dashed dreams and a life cut tragically short. She was second in line to the throne but never became Queen after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.

The story of Hawai’’s Crown Princess Ka’iulani is a tale of unfilled promise, dashed dreams and a life cut tragically short. She was second in line to the throne but never became Queen after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893. Educated in England, Ka’iulani broke the stereotype of Hawaiians being “savage” as she was a tall, slim, and beautiful hapa-haole young woman who wore the elegant Paris gowns and spoke English eloquently as she gave public speeches denouncing the overthrow of her government and pleaded with U.S. President Grover Cleveland to no avail. Ka’iulani was only 23 years-old when she died of pneumonia.

Born on October 16, 1875 during the reign of King David Kalākaua, Victoria Ka’iulani was named for England’s Queen Victoria, a longtime friend of Hawaiian royalty. Her name means “the highest point in heaven” or “the royal sacred one” in the Hawaiian language. Her mother was Miriam Likelike, Kalākaua’s sister, and her father was Scottish Archibald Cleghorn, governor of Oahu.

At birth, Ka’iulani was given an estate called ‘Āinahau in Waikiki by her godmother Princess Ruth, the last surviving member of the Kamehamehas. The estate near the ocean was surrounded by trees and flowers, and peacocks strutted amongst the ponds and footpaths. Ka’iulani was sometimes called the “peacock princess” because of her love for them. In 1899 when Ka’iulani was 13, she met the poet Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived next door and mesmerized her with intriguing tales of the world as they sat in the garden. Stevenson called her “the island rose” in a poem.[1]

Later that year, Ka’iulani’s father sent her away to England to further her education. Ka’iulani’s mother had died two years prior when she was 11.

During her absence, Kai’ulani’s uncle King David Kalākaua died unexpectedly in 1891, and then her aunt Lili’uokalani became Queen and named her heir apparent. Ka’iulani wanted to return home to Hawai’i but the queen would not permit it.

On January 17, 1893, the kingdom of Hawai’i was overthrown by American businessmen backed by U.S. Marines. One of the conspirators was Sanford B. Dole, of pineapple fame who went on to lead the Republic of Hawai’i. U.S. President McKinley had named the Republic of Hawai’i, the formal name of the nation between July 4, 1894 when the Provisional Government of Hawai’i had ended, and August 12, 1898, when the nation was annexed as a territory of the U.S.

Upon hearing news of trouble in paradise, Crown Princess Ka’iulani traveled from England to across the U.S. to denounce the overthrow of her government and the injustice toward her people. She returned to Hawai’i in 1897 to a very different place.

During the Annexation ceremony in 1898, the Princess and her aunt, Lili’uokalani along with other members of the royal family who were now private citizens, wore funeral attire and stayed within Washington Place, protesting what they considered an illegal transaction. .”When the news of Annexation came it was bitterer than death to me,” Princess Kaʻiulani, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It was bad enough to lose the throne, but infinitely worse to have the flag go down.”.

While horseback riding on the Big Island, Ka’iulani was caught in a rainstorm and fell ill. The cold turned into pneumonia and lingered for months. Kai’ulani and Prince David Kawananakoa (third heir to the throne of the kingdom of Hawai’i) had announced their engagement in 1898, but she died in 1899 before they were married. Ka’iulani was only 23.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kai’ulani

Songs for Queen Lili’uokalani


Queen Lili’uokalani was Hawaii’s last monarch. She composed Aloha ‘Oe and other songs you can learn to play the Ukulele Mele Way.

Queen Lili’uokalani (September 2, 1838 – November 11, 1917) was the last monarch of the kingdom of Hawai’i. She ascended to the throne on January 29, 1891 at age 52 after the death of her older brother King David Kalākaua on January 20. During her reign from 1891 – 1893, Lili’uokalani tried but failed to restore the powers of the monarchy and voting rights of the people that had been taken away by the earlier Bayonet Constitution in favor of an elite group of businessmen and wealthy landowners (many of whom were Americans). On January 17, 1893, a U.S. military-backed coup deposed the queen and formed a provisional government with Sanford Dole as president. Lili’uokalani appealed to U.S. President Grover Cleveland who (based on the Blount report) proposed to return the throne to her if she granted amnesty to everyone responsible. Lili’uokalani refused.

On January 16, 1895, Lili’uokalani was arrested when firearms were found at the bases of Diamond Head crater several days after the failed counter-revolution led by Robert William Wilcox. She was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom of Iolani Palace where she composed songs and worked on her memoirs. On September 6, 1895, Lili’uokalani was released and returned to Washington Place where she was placed under house arrest for a year. In 1896, the Republic of Hawaii gave Lili’uokalani a full pardon and restored her civil rights. She made several trips to the U.S. to protest against annexation and attended the inauguration of U.S. President McKinley. On August 12, 1898, troops from the U.S.S. Philadelphia came ashore and raised the U.S. flag at Iolani Palace to mark Hawaii’s annexation as a territory of the United States. Lili’uokalani and other Hawaiian nobles did not attend.

Lili’uokalani lived out her days at Washington Place until her death in 1917 at the age of 79. She had resided there since her marriage to John Owen Dominis on September 16, 1862. He died on August 27, 1891 just seven months after Lili’uokalani had become queen. They had no children, but she adopted his son, John Aimoku Dominis. Since 1918, Washington Place has been the Executive Mansion for twelve territorial and state governors of Hawaii.

Lili’uokalani left behind a Trust to provide resources to ensure the wellbeing of orphan and destitute Native Hawaiian children and their families, along with numerous musical compositions including “Aloha ‘Oe” and her book “Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen.”

Read more about Queen Lili’uokalani by the History channel.

Here are five songs composed by or about the Queen that you can learn to play the Ukulele Mele Way with downloadable song sheet, video lesson, audio recording, and video story behind the song in keeping with Hawaiian oral history traditions – click on the song’s title to listen to an audio sample.

  1. Aloha ‘Oe with Morse Code Strum for ‘ukulele.
  2. Ku’u Pua I Paoakalani with Pick in 4 Strum for ‘ukulele.
  3. Makalapua with I Wanna Rest Strum for ‘ukulele.
  4. Queen’s Jublilee with Morse Code Strum for ‘ukulele.
  5. Sanoe with 2 Waltz Strums for ‘ukulele.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Song of the Month for August


Hawaii was expected to be America’s 49th state but actually became the 50th state after Alaska.

Admissions Day or Statehood Day is a state holiday in Hawaii to commemorate the admission of Hawaii as the 50th state of the union on August 21, 1959. Learn more.

In celebration, learn to play Song of Old Hawaii for August’s “Fan Club Featured Song of the Month.” Note: Hawaii Record Company had expected statehood to occur earlier than it did, but as it turns out Alaska became the 49th state and Hawaii became the 50th state.

This hapa haole song (Hawaiian style music with English words) recalls a simpler time. Can you imagine the hula dancers swaying to and fro as the trade winds sigh in the heavens?

  1. Listen to the audio recording in the free online Fan Club.
  2. Schedule private webcam lessons to learn to play it from wherever you live.

I will send you the PDF song sheet for my arrangement and teach you how to play it with my unique Swing Strum for ‘ukulele. The song is in the key of C and uses 5 chords – perfect for beginner to intermediate ‘ukulele players. Other benefits of learning the Ukulele Mele Way:

  • No need to read music.
  • Get feedback from a professional educator and entertainer with over 50 years of ‘ukulele playing and entertaining experience.
  • Learn my method of forming ukulele chord shapes with minimal muscle strain and unique strumming styles taught by no one else.

Want a different song? Visit my online Fan Club and listen to over 100 audio recordings of Hawaiian, hapa haole, pop, and Christmas songs you can learn to play the Ukulele Mele Way with private lessons via webcam or on Maui.

Have fun learning to Watch. Listen. Play. The Ukulele Mele Way today!

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Hawaii Admissions Day 2017


Hawaii became the 50th state of the union on August 21, 1959

On August 21, 1959, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation welcoming Hawaii as the 50th state of the union and ordered a new American flag featuring 50 stars. The new flag became official on July 4, 1960. Since 1969, Hawaii has commemorated this anniversary with a state holiday on the third Friday in August, which this year happens to fall on the 18th.


King Kamehameha the Great united the Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom in 1810. In 1893, a group of American expatriates and sugar planters supported by a division of U.S. Marines deposed Queen Lili’uokalani, the last reigning monarch. The Republic of Hawaii was established a year later as a U.S. protectorate with Sanford B. Dole as president. In 1898, congress approved annexation after declaring Hawaii necessary for the use of the naval base at Pearl Harbor during the Spanish-American War. During World War II, Oahu served as command post for US operations in the Pacific following the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 (the Day of Infamy).

Statehood bills for Hawaii were introduced into the U.S. Congress as early as 1919 by Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole, the longest serving non-voting delegate elected by the people during Hawaii’s territorial days and the only person that was born a royal. It took forty years and five failed attempts (1919, 1931, 1935, 1947, and 1950) before the U.S. Congress approved the statehood bill, the Hawaii Admission Act. On June 27, 1959 Hawaii residents voted 94% in support of statehood (the ballot question was “Shall Hawaii immediately be admitted into the Union as a state?”[1]) and the rest is history.


Learn Hawaiian songs and stories from wherever you live today. Listen to audio samples and more.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statehood_Day_(Hawaii)

Kamehameha Day Parade on Maui


Maryanne Gomes, Mele Fong, and Marilyn Kusunoki represented the Ahahui Ka’ahumanu (along with 6 other members) in the Kamehameha Day parade on June 17 in Lahaina, Maui

Last Saturday, June 17, I participated in my first parade in Lahaina honoring King Kamehameha for his birthday. Nine of us represented the Ahahui Ka’ahumanu as we rode in cars in the Nā Kamehameha Commemorative Pāʻū Parade that went from Kenui Street down Front Street to Shaw Street. Along the way, we heard live announcers and Hawaiian music blasting from 5 stations throughout the parade route. We were towards of the front of the parade line up and noticed it took about 40-minutes for us from start to finish. It was a lot of fun to wave and smile at people along the parade route. At one point I heard my name called out, and noticed a husband of one of my ‘ukulele students in the crowd. It’s a small world!

Not to forget the reason for the parade – it was all about honoring King Kamehameha the Great. This was the second activity that I participated in this year along with my Ahahui Ka’ahumanu sisters to honor the king that unified the Hawaiian Islands into one Kingdom. Read about the commemorative march held on the King’s birthday on June 11th.

“King Kamehameha was prophesied to unite the Hawaiian Islands from the night of his birth. A comet streaked across the sky fulfilling an ancient prophesy that the child born under this phenomenon would one day rise up as ruler. King Kamehameha the Great demonstrated strength and intelligence as he created a unified island kingdom from what was once warring tribes. For this, we honor him.” – Read more about the 145th King Kamehameha Day holiday and activities held statewide.

WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO THE HAWAIIAN CULTURE by learning to play Hawaiian music from wherever you live? LEARN HOW.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele