Ukulele Mele On Maui
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Mele's Memories


Honolulu 1955

Born and raised in Hawaii 

I was born on Oahu in 1955, of Hawaiian-Chinese ancestry. My Hawaiian grandpa named me from a prophesy dream - Mele means music or merry in Hawaiian. I have no siblings, but had plenty of cousins and neighborhood children to play with growing up on Diamond Head in walking distance to the beach. (Photo with Dad, Charles H.H. Fong, at Ulu Mau Village, Oahu)

Playing Piano 1965

Played piano since age 7

I started piano lessons at age 7, continued through high school, and entered the Conservatory of Music at the University of Pacific based on my piano performance. I also took 'ukulele and hula lessons growing up, and voice lessons in college. (Photo at home near Diamond Head)

Dancing hula 1966

Performed with "Charlie's Dollies" growing up

My Dad managed our group of 5 girls (4 sisters and myself) when we were 5-12 years-old. We danced hula, played instruments, and sang at church and the Armed Services YMCA, etc. (Photo with cousin Patty Ohara at Waiokeola Church in Waialae-Kahala)

May Day Queen 1967

May Day Queen in 6th Grade

Kahala Elementary School teachers selected me as May Day Queen based on scholastic merit when I was a 6th grader in 1967. In the Fall, I entered Kamehameha Schools as a 7th grader. (Photo with mom, Helen K.A. Fong, at school)

Maui summers with grandparents

Summers with Grandparents in Maui

I flew alone to spend summers with my grandparents in Hana, Maui and cried when they got electricity when I was 8 years-old. We ate fish and poi, went to sleep at sunset, and got up with the chickens. I was lucky to experience both the rural and urban lifestyles growing up.

Playing guitar growing up

Played ukulele, guitar, and sang with family & friends

I played ukulele and taught myself guitar. I was on the Danny Kaleikini TV show as an upcoming star when I was 14 years-old. My Dad told me, “Music is the universal language meant to be shared.” (Photo with Dad and grandma Kihei on Maui) 

High School grad 1973

Graduated from Kamehameha 1973

During high school, I went backpacking with my church youth group to Kalalau Valley on Kauai. I played in the orchestra, was in drama, and enjoyed hiking. (Photo on Kauai)

college grad 1977

Graduated from University of
Pacific with B.A. 1977

University President Stan McCaffrey presented my diploma and YMCA Youth Service Award in 1977. My degree was in Recreation, Youth Agency Administration. My career started at the YMCA of Greater Seattle, WA. (Photo at Stockton, CA)

The Hawaiian Serenaders 2014

Moved to Maui in 2000

I spent 27 years on the mainland working mainly for the USDA Forest Service. In 1996, The Hawaiian Serenaders performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. We returned home in 2000, started Ukulele Mele On Maui, and continue to perform professionally. (Photo at the Bailey House)

MORE MEMORIES - Visit my blog and like me on Facebook

Story Behind Ukulele Mele (how I got my Hawaiian name)
Fong Family Memories - A Tribute to My Parents 2017 (watch 6-minute slideshow movie)
Father's Day Memories 2016 (my Dad's musical influence)
Mother's Day Memories 2015 (my mom's musical direction)
Classmate Reunion June 22-24, 2016 on Oahu (visiting places where I grew up).
Memories of Graduations (high school and college direction)
Memories of Childhood (dancing hula as a child)
May Day Memories (Queen For A Day in elementary school)
Homesteading in Hana (Trip 2017 down memory lane)

Personal stories with Uncle Richard Ho'opi'i, 1996 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow awardee for his Hawaiian music.