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“This is for you,” said Dolly Ching as she presented a puakenikeni lei that she made from flowers in her yard. “We’re so proud of you,” said Barbara Fernandez as she put a red hibiscus lei around my neck. I think she was referring to the recent article “A Song in Her Heart” published about me in The Maui News on October 14, 2016 (see the online version).
Eighteen people came to my program on Na Lani Eha: The Four Royals on Thursday, October 27, 2016 at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better. This was the 4th of 4 programs in my Hawaiian History Series for 2016 and replaced the previously scheduled program for April that was cancelled due to sickness.
The program was in two parts. The first part was about each of the siblings: King David Kalākaua, Queen Lili’uokalani, Princess Miriam Likelike, and Prince William Pitt Leleiohōku. The second part was a sing-along and ‘ukulele play-along of a song from each of the four royal composers. The PowerPoint presentation lasted 80 minutes through 59 slides.
Here are the songs we learned:
- Koni Au I Ka Wai, written by King David Kalākaua in 1888, is a party song.
- Kaulana Na Pua, written by Ellen Prendergast in 1893, supports Queen Lili’uokalani after the overthrow of the monarchy.
- Ku’uipo I Ka He’e Pu’e One, written by Princess Likelike in the 1800s, is a love song and her best known composition.
- Hawaiian War Chant, written by Prince Leleiohōku in the 1860s and titled “We Two in Spray”, is a love song about two palace lovers who met in secret. In 1936, composer Johnny Noble borrowed the melody, Ralph Freed added English lyrics, and renamed the song Hawaiian War Chant.
- Hawaii Aloha, written in the 1800s by Reverend Lorenzo Lyons, tells about love for the islands.
New this time, I talked through the entire first part lecture without reading from my script and opened it up to questions. I received favorable feedback after the program about how smooth and more personal it was when I talked “off the cuff.” I guess I surprised myself at how much I know about Hawaiian history that I was able to speak confidently without referring to my notes.
Once again, my husband accompanied the sing-along portion of the program by playing his u-bass. We did 5 songs including Hawaii Aloha as the traditional song to end the program. For each song I told the story behind the song in keeping with Hawaiian oral history traditions, taught everyone how to pronounce the Hawaiian lyrics, and then led everyone in singing the song twice (once to become familiar with the tune, and then once more to gain confidence).
What a kick to see my current ‘ukulele students all sitting together and having fun. I was also happy to see new faces and new ‘ukulele players playing along. Before the program started, I made a point of talking to new people and was surprised to recognize a couple that we had met at a Chinese Club New Year’s dinner last February. They commute back and forth between Seattle, Washington and Maui where they live in the same condo complex as one of my students. They told me they enjoyed themselves at my first program and had signed up for more classes during my Ukulele Mele Music Week coming up in November.
Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele