Hawaiian Serenaders Perform with a Keyboardist


Before our show with George Kahumoku, Jr.

The Hawaiian Serenaders talked story with Grammy Award winner George Kahumoku, Jr. before the start of our show last Saturday, January 21, at the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapu. George asked us for ideas on venues in Washington, D.C. where he could perform when he goes there next month. George knows that we used to live in Maryland and perform in Washington. D.C. and we know some of the same people. The occasion was the 5th Anniversary party for Maui Business Brainstormers, an organization of business owners and entrepreneurs who meet regularly to network and help each other solve business challenges. I am a member of MBB and happen to have served on the entertainment committee as part of the planning committee for the party.


Serenaders perform pop and jazz with a keyboardist

The best part of being on the entertainment committee was meeting Michael Elam, President of Mana’o Radio (a local FM station) and keyboardist. When Mike suggested that it would be fun to play music together for the party, we jumped at the chance. Rich and I rehearsed 3 times in 3 weeks with Mike and then it was show time. At our last rehearsal it took exactly 30-minutes to play our trio set which was exactly the plan for the time slot.

The party started at 5:30 p.m. and ended around 8:45 p.m. (earlier than 10 p.m. as planned). In addition to participating in 3 planning committee meetings, we setup our Bose sound system and provided the following services at the party for 110 guests:

  • Provided 45-minutes of instrumental music (pre-recorded on mp3 player) during guest registration, cocktails, meet and greet.
  • Performed 60-minutes during dinner hour (as a duo playing Hawaiian and hapa haole favorites from memory and as a trio playing pop and jazz cover songs).
  • Provided pre-recorded music of the Chicken Dance and I led the motions for group participation.
  • Provided sound system support for Mike to sing and play keyboard as I changed the words for each song that was projected from the computer onto the screen for a group sing-along of Beatles songs.
  • Performed “With A Little Help From My Friends” and then “Hawaii Aloha” to close the party.

Over 100 business people attended the event

After the party, we received many compliments directly and through others. I thought it was great when one couple got up to dance to the first song we played with Mike titled “Uwehi Ami and Slide.” A memory I have is seeing Nancy Kahumoku (George’s wife) moving in time to our music each time she got up from the table to get something to eat. It felt good to showcase what we do and the mix of music we play. “Your music is not boring,” said one person. I put a lot of thought into the selection of songs, tempos, styles, and language, so that we keep our audience guessing what’s next.

Here is The Hawaiian Serenaders set of Hawaiian and hapa haole songs we did from memory:

  1. Kupa Landing
  2. To You Sweetheart Aloha
  3. Wahine Ilikea
  4. I’ll Remember You
  5. Ulupalakua
  6. Hanalei Moon
  7. Island Medley
  8. Lahainaluna
  9. O Ka Leo
  10. Beyond the Reef
  11. Koni Au I Ka Wai
  12. Sophisticated Hula

Here is the trio set of pop and jazz songs we did together (with alternating instrumental solos):

  1. Uwehi Ami and Slide
  2. Flying
  3. Night and Day
  4. Autumn Leaves
  5. Fly Me To the Moon
  6. Girl From Ipanema
  7. I Wish You Love
  8. More

A fun time was had by all.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele


Mele Fong is a professional singer, song arranger, and master of multiple strumming styles for the 'ukulele. She is an experienced educator with over 50+ years experience playing the 'ukulele and entertaining worldwide. Mele performs with her husband in the duo "The Hawaiian Serenaders" and leads student groups. In 1996, the duo represented the State of Hawai'i in concert at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Mele and her husband Richard Tom were both born and raised on Oahu and now reside in Maui.