“Mele, let’s take a picture,” said Grammy Award winner George Kahumoku, Jr. after he and Steve performed on stage and The Hawaiian Serenaders waited our turn at the Bailey House Museum for the Ka’ahumanu church benefit on Sunday, June 28. George commented that he liked that Rich and I were dressed up, as he was informally dressed in shorts and tank top for his next gig at the Hawaiian Slack Key Concert at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center.
Years ago, George asked me to be an ‘ukulele mentor for students of the Institute of Hawaiian Music that he started at the University of Hawaii Maui College. I remember being in awe as I jammed with George as we filmed what I could teach students at the college. “Pinch me, is this real?” Today, The Hawaiian Serenaders are sometimes at the same venue as George, and it feels great to be acknowledged by the Grammy Award winner.
We played 11 songs by memory during our 45-minute set, and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom of not being dependent on looking at music so we could freely look around at the audience. On the back of my ‘ukulele I attached a list of songs in order by title and key so I could remember the mix. I feel we are doing a community service by playing nostalgic Hawaiian and hapa haole music and inviting the audience to sing-along as we bring back the songs we all grew up singing or recognize from the days of Hawaii Calls. It was the radio program Hawaii Calls that was broadcast from the shores of Waikiki in the 1930s-50s that brought Hawaiian music to the masses on the mainland, and conjured up the imagination of what it would be like to escape to a Hawaiian paradise.
Here’s the list of Hawaiian songs we played as we journeyed around the islands:
- Kupa Landing – Big Island
- Beyond the Reef
- E Huli
- Little Grass Shack – Big Island
- Island Medley
- Hanalei Moon – Kauai
- Ulupalakua – Maui
- Lahainaluna – Maui
- Wahine Ilikea – Molokai
- To You Sweetheart Aloha
- Sophisticated Hula
After our set, we met some nice people who asked for our business card. One couple we discovered is friends of my students – such a small world. The Executive Director of the Bailey House made a point of coming up to thank us for our entertainment services.
According to the Monday newspaper, “the fundraiser at the Bailey House Museum raised more than $5,000 that will help with needed repairs after a February storm damaged the 139-year-old church. A dozen vendors sold everything from Hawaiian plates to metal jewelry, and several local businesses donated items toward the silent auction.”
It was a worthwhile event to give back to our community at the Bailey House, where I teach private ‘ukulele lessons.
Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele