Mele worked in Washington State and Alaska, and then moved to Virginia in 1991 to work at the National Headquarters of the USDA Forest Service in Washington, D.C.
Richard B.C. Tom and Mele Fong got married in 1994 in Maryland and The Hawaiian Serenaders debut as a duo at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History’s Hawaiian Hall that same year. We had met the year before on stage at the National Mall playing music with a Polynesian group for an International Music Festival. Mele joined the 13-member group as a singer and Rich played electric bass as we did shows with hula and Tahitian dancers at public and private events around Washington D.C. The best gig was performing at Camp David. Although we both grew up on Oahu, we had to go 6,000 miles away to find each other.
(Photo taken at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History’s Hawaiian Hall, 1994)