Queen Lili’uokalani, Hawai’i’s Last Monarch

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Queen Lili’uokalani, Hawai’i’s last monarch

Queen Lili’uokalani (September 2, 1838 – November 11, 1917) was the last monarch of the kingdom of Hawai’i. She ascended to the throne on January 29, 1891 at age 52 after the death of her older brother King David Kalākaua on January 20. During her reign from 1891 – 1893, Lili’uokalani tried but failed to restore the powers of the monarchy and voting rights of the people that had been taken away by the earlier Bayonet Constitution in favor of an elite group of businessmen and wealthy landowners (many of whom were Americans). On January 17, 1893, a U.S. military-backed coup deposed the queen and formed a provisional government with Sanford Dole as president. Lili’uokalani appealed to U.S. President Grover Cleveland who (based on the Blount report) proposed to return the throne to her if she granted amnesty to everyone responsible. Lili’uokalani refused.

On January 16, 1895, Lili’uokalani was arrested when firearms were found at the bases of Diamond Head crater several days after the failed counter-revolution led by Robert William Wilcox. She was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom of Iolani Palace where she composed songs and worked on her memoirs. On September 6, 1895, Lili’uokalani was released and returned to Washington Place where she was placed under house arrest for a year. In 1896, the Republic of Hawaii gave Lili’uokalani a full pardon and restored her civil rights. She made several trips to the U.S. to protest against annexation and attended the inauguration of U.S. President McKinley. On August 12, 1898, troops from the U.S.S. Philadelphia came ashore and raised the U.S. flag at Iolani Palace to mark Hawaii’s annexation as a territory of the United States. Lili’uokalani and other Hawaiian nobles did not attend.

Lili’uokalani lived out her days at Washington Place until her death in 1917 at the age of 79. She had resided there since her marriage to John Owen Dominis on September 16, 1862. He died on August 27, 1891 just seven months after Lili’uokalani had become queen. They had no children, but she adopted his son, John Aimoku Dominis. Since 1918, Washington Place has been the Executive Mansion for twelve territorial and state governors of Hawaii.

Lili’uokalani left behind a Trust to provide resources to ensure the wellbeing of orphan and destitute Native Hawaiian children and their families, along with numerous musical compositions including “Aloha ‘Oe” and her book “Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen.”

Read more about Ukulele Mele On Maui programs on Hawai’i’s Last Queen >>

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Ukulele Mele On Maui Programs on Hawai’i’s Last Queen

Bailey House
First history talk at the Bailey House, 2014

Queen Lili’uokalani (September 2, 1838 – November 11, 1917) was the last monarch and only queen regent of the Kamehameha dynasty, which had ruled a unified Hawaiian kingdom since 1810. Born Lydia Kamakaeha, she became crown princess in 1877, after the death of her youngest brother made her the heir apparent to her elder brother, King Kalakaua. By the time she took the throne herself in 1891 at age 52, a new Hawaiian constitution had removed much of the monarchy’s powers in favor of an elite class of businessmen and wealthy landowners (many of them American). When Lili’uokalani acted to restore these powers, a U.S. military-backed coup deposed her in 1893 and formed a provisional government; Hawai’i was declared a republic in 1894. Lili’uokalani signed a formal abdication in 1895 but continued to appeal to U.S. President Grover Cleveland for reinstatement, without success. The United States annexed Hawai’i as a territory in 1898 and then as the 50th state on August 21, 1959.

During her lifetime, Lili’uokalani committed herself to empowering the disenfranchised Native Hawaiian population. Lili’uokalani left behind a Trust to provide resources to ensure the wellbeing of orphan and destitute Native Hawaiian children and their families, along with numerous musical compositions including “Aloha ‘Oe” and her book “Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen (written during her imprisonment).”

I have given 7 PowerPoint presentations about Queen Lili’uokalani to 149 participants from 2014-2019 at the Bailey House (historic Hawaiian museum) and at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better. Some of the programs included sing-alongs of the Queen’s compositions that I arranged for my ‘ukulele students.

In 2019, we visited three places related to the Queen on Oahu. First we toured the Queen’s home at Washington Place that was built in 1842 and where she composed her most famous composition Aloha ‘Oe. Second, we saw a stone with the lyrics to Aloha etched in it placed outside Washington Place. Third, we saw a bronze statue titled “Spirit of Lili’uokalani” that was dedicated in 1982 and stands near Iolani Palace (the only royal palace in the United States that you can visit today to learn about the days of the Hawaiian monarchy).

In 2020, I made a video titled Aloha ‘Oe (Queen Lili’uokalani and her home) that’s available for viewing on my YouTube Channel. My husband and I sing and play the song Aloha ‘Oe over photos about the Queen and her home at Washington Place on Oahu. The video lasts just over 2 minutes.

Watch the video at https://youtu.be/qAsTdl36Ezs.

SUBSCRIBE TO MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL at https://www.youtube.com/user/melefong/ for more music and stories related to the songs.

More on Queen Lili’uokalani, Hawai’i’s Last Monarch >>

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Hawaii Statehood Day 2020

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Photo by Albert Yamauchi of news carrier Chester Kahapea on Friday, August 21, 1959

This year Hawai’i celebrates Admission Day or Statehood Day on the actual day that it occurred back in 1959, August 21 the third Friday of the month. The legal state holiday commemorates the 1959 admission of Hawai’i into the Union.

On August 21, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation welcoming Hawai‘i as the 50th state of the union and ordered a new American flag to feature 50 stars. The new design became the official American flag the following year on July 4, 1960.

The effort for statehood had started in 1919 by Prince Kuhio as Hawai‘i’s non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress, and took 40 years and five failed attempts before the Hawai‘i Admission Act was approved. On June 27, 1959, Hawai‘i residents voted 94% in support of statehood.

Since 1969, Hawai‘i has commemorated this anniversary with a state holiday on the third Friday in August. The holiday was originally called “Admissions Day,” but since 2001 it has been called “Statehood Day.” I find it interesting to note that out of all 50 states, only five have official statehood holidays (Kentucky, Tennessee, Nevada, West Virginia, and Hawai‘i).

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Walk with Royalty Review

“I enjoyed it and learned something,” commented a retired librarian after the class.
Hawaiian History and Song

A full room of seventeen people signed up for my new Walk with Royalty class on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better on Maui. I had done this tour over two days in April 2019 and wanted to share some of what I learned and more. Part 1 lecture took 1 hour and Part 2 sing-along took 20-minutes which totaled 10 minutes longer than previous programs. There were a total of 84 PowerPoint slides and 13 pages of notes.

Part 1: A virtual tour of Washington Place (Queen Lili’uokalani’s home), ‘Iolani Palace (only royal palace in the United States), and King Kamehameha Statue (unified the Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom in 1810) all within walking distance of each other in downtown Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Plus we looked at the Queen’s Statue and the stone monument to the Queen’s composition Aloha ‘Oe.

Part 2: Audience sing and play along to my song arrangements with unique ‘ukulele strums to five songs about the monarchy period (including the traditional song to end all public events):

  1. Hawaii Ponoi (state anthem) – Waltz Variation Strum.
  2. King Kamehameha – I Wanna Rest/4 And Strums.
  3. Aloha ‘Oe – Morse Code Strum.
  4. On the Beach at Waikiki – Hum Ding-Ah Strum.
  5. Hawaii Aloha – Morse Code Strum.

This class was the last in the Hawaiian History and Song Series scheduled for the 5th Wednesdays of the month in 2019.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Kamehameha Day Activities 2019

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The Royal Order of Kamehameha and the Ahahui Kaahumanu celebrated Kamehameha Day with a march in Kahului and a parade in Lahaina, Maui in June.

June 11 is the official state holiday to celebrate King Kamehameha who unified the Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom in 1810. On Maui, I celebrated the holiday with my Ahahui Kaahumanu sisters in the Kamehameha Day March in Kahului on the actual holiday on Tuesday, June 11 and in the Commemorative Parade in Lahaina on Saturday, June 15. The Ahahui Kaahumanu is a royal society of Native Hawaiian women honoring Queen Ka’ahumanu, favorite wife of King Kamehameha.

The march in Kahului is a solemn event for members of the four royal societies and the community as we walked one-mile down Ka’ahumanu Avenue from the University of Hawaii Maui College to Hoaloha Park. The police coned off the car lane nearest the sidewalk so we could walk safely down the major street in Kahului and cross a major intersection along the way. The Royal Order of Kamehameha led the event and hosted the paina (social gathering with food) afterwards at their clubhouse at Hale Nanea. My Uncle Clifford started this event back in 2000 and the tradition continues today.

The parade in Lahaina is a fun event as we rode in cars and waved to spectators down the one-mile route from Kenui Street along Front Street to Shaw Street. This year we had five bright red cars to accommodate our group with three to four members per car. The Royal Order of Kamehameha led the event and provided a tour bus to take us back and forth from Kahului to the parade start and finish in air conditioned luxury. After Hawaiian protocols concluded the event, I got a photo with the new Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino who rode in the parade with his wife. “Please send me the photo,” commented the mayor. I’m pleased that our current and former mayor know me by name.

Learn more about Kamehameha Day holiday.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

First Christmas in Hawaii Nei

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On Oahu, the annual Honolulu City Lights is a month long Christmas lights and decorations display at Honolulu Hale that includes a 50-foot Norfolk pine decorated Christmas tree, Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus, the indoor tree display and corridor of wreaths. I have enjoyed driving around the area with my family to see the lights while many people enjoy walking the grounds around Honolulu Hale.

The first recorded Christmas in Hawai’i was in 1786, when Captain George Dixon of the merchant ship Queen Charlotte docked the ship on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. Dixon and his crew celebrated a large Christmas dinner that included a whole roast pig.

The ancient Hawaiians did not celebrate Christmas until after the arrival of the missionaries in 1820. Christmas occurred during the Makahiki, the four month period of resting and feasting when ancient Hawaiians honored the earth for giving them plenty to eat. No conflicts or wars were allowed during this time. After the Hawaiian embraced Christianity, it was only natural that they adapted some of the traditions of Makahiki to the celebration of Christmas.

King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma of Hawai’i officially celebrated Christmas in 1856 as a day of Thanksgiving. On Christmas Eve of 1858 Mary Dominis threw a party at Washington Place featuring the first instance of a Christmas tree and Santa Claus in Hawaii. King Kamehameha IV declared it an official holiday in 1862.

Today, the traditions on Christmas day are similar to other places; families gather for a large meal and then perhaps go surfing or swimming in the ocean and play ukuleles and dance hula late into the night. The different cultures and ethnic groups that have settled in the islands celebrate the Christmas traditions in their own unique ways. Santa Claus (Hawaiian: Kanakaloka) is not wearing his corporate red and white suit, but has swapped it for aloha shirt and short and slippers. Santa hats are worn and the traditional Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are replaced by an outrigger canoe pulled by dolphins.

Mele Kalikimaka

The greeting Merry Christmas was difficult for the Hawaiians to pronounce because English language sounds like “R” in the word merry did not exist in the Hawaiian language. Thus, Mele Kalikimaka is not a literal translation but simply how we say Merry Christmas in Hawai’i.

In 1949, R. Alex Anderson wrote Hawaii’s popular Christmas song “Mele Kalikimaka.” He was born in Honolulu in 1884 composed nearly 200 songs before his death in 1995. As the story goes, in 1949 Anderson was in his office in Honolulu when his secretary, a woman from the mainland, mentioned that she had never heard a Hawaiian Christmas song. Thus, he composed Mele Kalikimaka and it became an enduring classic. Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters made one of the earliest recordings in 1950 on 78 rpm and 45 rpm phonograph records.

‘Ukulele players can learn to play my arrangement of Mele Kalikimaka for free!

  1. Learn Mele Kalikimaka in the sample format of Monthly Online Lessons.
  2. Learn Mele Kalikimaka in the sample downloadable files of Single Song Purchases.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Review Legacies of Hawaiian Leaders

www.UkuleleMeleOnMaui.com

Mele Fong presented Legacies of Hawaiian Leaders on August 29 on Maui. Five Hawaiian royalty and their legacies for health, education, and welfare were presented plus 5 related songs.

“My friend really wanted to come to your program, but couldn’t get in,” commented one student. “I was on the waiting list and lucky to get in,” said another student. When I asked for feedback after the program, there was an enthusiastic response that I should continue the series next year. “Where else will be learn our Hawaiian history?” asked a student.

Fifteen people signed up for Legacies of Hawaiian Leaders, the third program in my new Hawaiian History and Song Series for 2018 on Wednesday, August 29 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better. The program was two-fold: part lecture and part sing-along. In Part One we learned about 5 Hawaiian ali’i (royalty): (Queen Emma, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, King William Lunalilo, Queen Kapiolani, and Queen Lili’uokalani) and what they left behind that we benefit from today. In Part Two we sang 5 Hawaiian songs composed by or appropriate to remember the ali’i.

Here is the list of 5 songs with my unique ‘ukulele strums that we played:

  1. Aloha ‘Oe – Morse Code Strum.
  2. Hawaii Aloha – Morse Code Strum.
  3. Hawaiian Lullaby – Pick in 4 / Latin Strums.
  4. King Kamehameha the Conqueror of the Islands – I Wanna Rest / 4And Strums.
  5. Wahine Holo Lio – Pick in 4 / I Wanna Rest Strums.

The Hawaiian History and Song series continues on the 5th Wednesdays of the month. The next program is October 31 and is titled The Merrie Monarch.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Ukulele Songs of the Hawaiian Islands Review

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22 Signed Up for Island Songs

“I changed my doctor’s appointment so I could come to class,” commented a participant after the program.

Twenty two people signed up for my monthly Sing-Along with Mele Fong Series – Island Songs on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better on Maui.

During the new “Hawaiian history moment of the month” I talked about statehood. On August 21, 1959, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation welcoming Hawaii as the 50th state of the union and ordered a new American flag featuring 50 stars. The new flag became official on July 4, 1960. Since 1969, Hawaii has commemorated this anniversary with a state holiday on the third Friday in August which this year fell on August 17th. Read more by clicking here.

The “Sing-Along with Mitch Miller” format of projecting the song lyrics and ‘ukulele chords on a screen at the front of the room, and having my husband provide the u-bass line to fill in the lower tones to the higher pitched ‘ukulele worked great! We continued the routine of learning how to pronounce any Hawaiian words in the songs, the story behind each song whether it was Hawaiian or not, and playing each song twice to reinforce what we learned.

We sang all ten planned Hawaiian and hapa haole songs during the 75-minute program. Here is the song list with the names of my unique ‘ukulele strums:

  1. State anthem: Hawaii Ponoi – Waltz Variation Strum.
  2. King Kamehameha – I Wanna Rest/4 And Strums.
  3. Island Medley – Hum Ding-Ah/I Wanna Rest Strums.
  4. Big Island: Beauty of Mauna Kea – Latin Strum.
  5. Oahu: Honolulu I’m Coming Back Again – I Wanna Rest Strum.
  6. Oahu: Beyond the Rainbow (Waipio) – Pick in 4/Bossa Nova Strums.
  7. Kauai: Hele On To Kauai – Hum Ding-Ah Strum.
  8. Kauai: Hanalei Moon – I Wanna Rest Strum.
  9. What Aloha Means – 2 Waltz Strums.
  10. Hawaii Aloha – Morse Code Strum.

Stay tuned for the next Sing-Along with Mele Fong Series – Pop Hits of the 50s and 60s on Thursday, September 6.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele

Legacies of Hawaiian Leaders

www.UkuleleMeleOnMaui.com

Mele Fong presents Legacies of Hawaiian Leaders on August 29 on Maui. Five Hawaiian royalty and their legacies for health, education, and welfare will be presented.

Legacies of Hawaiian Leaders is the title of my program on Wednesday, August 29 from 10 a.m. – 12 noon at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better on Maui. We will learn about Hawai’i’s royalty whose legacy included Queen’s Hospital, Kamehameha Schools, Lunalilo Home, Kapi’olani Children’s Hospital, and Lili’uokalani Trust. Plus we will sing some songs related to the time period and learn the stories behind the songs in keeping with Hawaiian oral history traditions.

Participants can follow the song’s lyrics and ‘ukulele chords projected onto the large screen at the front of the room (similar to Sing-Along with Mitch Miller). All ‘ukulele players are invited to bring instruments to play along as I lead everyone by singing and playing my ‘ukulele while my husband accompanies us on ‘ukulele-bass.

Similar to the new additions in my Sing-Along with Mele Fong series, there is a slide before each song that shows the unique strum graphic (how we play the rhythm) and the chord shapes with corresponding finger numbers for playing the ukulele. Don’t worry if you don’t know the ‘ukulele chords or the unique strumming pattern for the songs. The focus is on learning Hawaiian history, singing the songs, finding out the stories behind them, and enjoying the group experience.

Lunch is optional and a good time to sit around and talk story with like minded people who enjoy Hawaiian history, singing, and playing the ukulele.

SIGN UP NOW by calling 808-270-7308.

This program is the third of the new Hawaiian History and Song series for 2018 on the 5th Wednesdays of the month. The next program is titled The Merrie Monarch scheduled for October 31.

Aloha, Mele Fong, aka Ukulele Mele

Hawaii Statehood Day 2018

www.UkuleleMeleOnMaui.com

On Friday, August 21, 1959, Hawai’i became the 50th state of the union. Photo by Star Bulletin photographer Albert Yamauchi of news carrier Chester Kahapea.

On August 21, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation welcoming Hawai‘i as the 50th state of the union and ordered a new American flag to feature 50 stars. The new design became the official American flag the following year on July 4, 1960.

The effort for statehood had started in 1919 by Prince Kuhio as Hawai‘i’s non-voting delegate to the U.S. Congress, and took 40 years and five failed attempts before the Hawai‘i Admission Act was approved. On June 27, 1959, Hawai‘i residents voted 94% in support of statehood.

Since 1969, Hawai‘i has commemorated this anniversary with a state holiday on the third Friday in August. The holiday was originally called “Admissions Day,” but since 2001 it has been called “Statehood Day.” I find it interesting to note that out of all 50 states, only five have official statehood holidays (Kentucky, Tennessee, Nevada, West Virginia, and Hawai‘i). Read more about Hawai’i Admissions Day in my previous blog post.

We will commemorate the occasion by playing “Island Songs” at my monthly Sing-Along with Mele Fong series on Thursday, August 16 from 10 a.m. – noon at Kaunoa Senior Center for adults 55 and better. ‘Ukulele players are invited to play-along as everyone sings-along to ten popular songs of the Hawaiian Islands.

Aloha, Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele