July Review American Songs Sing-Along

CLICK ON A PHOTO for the story behind it

“I like the pictures,” commented Nona Weaver after attending her first sing-along program and seeing the PowerPoint slide show of pictures, song lyrics and ‘ukulele chords projected on the big screen. She was referring to the title slide for each of the songs that include a photo to illustrate the song as I tell the story behind the song.

Fourteen people signed up for the first in the Summer Sing-Along Series of Great American Songs on Monday, July 18 from 10:00 a.m. – noon at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults age 55 and better. There were some new faces in addition to the returning ‘ukulele students. Ten songs were selected from the golden age of American songs found in The Great American Songbook and the American Song Treasury. I purposefully selected relatively easy to play songs that told stories of early American life such as bicycling, railroading, and coal mining, and taught them in an order that mixed up the strumming styles and rhythms. It was fun to play songs that we used to sing during childhood such as The More We Get Together.

My PowerPoint presentation was 57 slides and took 1 hour and 20 minutes. When Rich would put down his u-bass to take photos, the absence of the lower tones that make the songs sound fuller was obvious. New this time, I asked if there was a request to repeat one song before we ended the program by singing the traditional Hawaii Aloha. There was a request to repeat the medley of Daisy Bell/Sidewalks of New York which got everyone swaying in waltz ¾ time as we sang along. Perfect!

Here are the 10 great American songs plus the traditional event ending song in Hawaiian that we learned:

  1. Medley: Beer Barrel Polka/There is a Tavern in the Town – by Jaromir Vejvoda, 1927.
  2. The More We Get Together – traditional British folk song, 18th or 19th
  3. Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue – music by Ray Henderson, lyrics by Joe Young and Sam Lewis, 1927.
  4. Let Me Call You Sweetheart – music by Leo Friedman, lyrics by Beth Slater Whitson, 1910.
  5. America the Beautiful – music by Samuel A. Ward, lyrics by Katherine Lee Bates, 1910.
  6. Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby – music by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by Gus Kahn, 1925.
  7. Medley: Daisy Bell/Sidewalks of New York – Daisy Bell by Harry Care, 1892; Sidewalks by Charles Lawlor and James Blake, 1894.
  8. Sloop John B – by Richard Le Gallienne, 1916.
  9. Clementine – by Percy Montross, 1883.
  10. She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain – traditional, 1870.
  11. Hawaii Aloha – by Rev. Lorenzo Lyons, 1800s.

Stay tuned for the second in the Summer Sing-Along Series of Great American Songs on Thursday, August 11.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

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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.