“We appreciate your talent and great efforts,” wrote Toni Rojas, Marketing Director at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, after The Hawaiian Serenaders last show in April.
We performed three 2-hour sets on April 3, 10, and 24 as part of Queen Ka’ahumanu Center’s Maui Made Sundays new event for the month. We missed April 17 because I was sick with bronchitis made worst by asthma and couldn’t sing. Our time slot from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. made us the transition group between Keoni Manuel’s hula halau (hula school for children up to adult dancers) and Gene Argel’s jazz band. Entertainment ran throughout the event from 9:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
We enjoyed the opportunity to share our mix of Hawaiian, hapa haole, pop, and jazz favorites as we sang and played our ‘ukulele and u-bass. Although it was not a requirement that we have hula dancers, we were lucky to have three adult dancers join us for the first two Sundays, and two adult dancers for the last Sunday who added to our presentation of Hawaiian songs. Another aspect that made us different from other entertainers was the way we engaged the audience with our song introductions and personal stories, and invited everyone to sing-along to the last song of each set.
On the first Sunday, we arrived early and stayed late to observe the entertainers before and after us. We were lucky to have two of my adult students who danced hula for our Ukulele Mixed Plate shows last year also dance for this show along with a friend who spontaneously got up and danced when we entertained at a church benefit in February. We had considered inviting hula dancers to informally dance when they heard a song they knew, but later decided to go with a more formalized program. Read more at my blog review for April 3rd.
One touching moment occurred on the second Sunday when we invited the audience to get up and waltz in front of the stage to the next song and an older couple did just that. As we were singing, a man let go of his walker and held out his hand to his wife, and then they waltzed to “Could I Have This Dance.” On that same day, one of our hula dancers went out into the audience and gave everyone fresh plumeria blossoms as we sang “There’s No Place Like Hawaii.” Read more at my blog review for April 10th.
On the last Sunday, five members of the Maui Ukulele Pops Band performed the first set, and one of the members stayed to dance hula in our second set. “You all look like you were having fun,” commented a member of the audience. Read more at my blog review for April 24th.
In summary, our Sunday Serenade at Maui Made Sundays was a great experience to perform for the public at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, the largest shopping center in Kahului. It all began in January when I sent Happy New Year email greetings to a contact at the Center, and Brian Fremgen (the new Specialty Leasing Manager) replied “Queen Ka’ahumanu Center would love to work with you some time in 2016, if you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to shoot them my way!” He had seen and liked our Ukulele Mixed Plate shows at the Shops at Wailea from January-April 2015. We waited to meet with the new Marketing Director who was starting her job the end of January, and then on March 15 we were asked to submit a proposal. The rest they say is history.
Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele