When most people think of Hawaii, they think of a tropical paradise with beautiful beaches and swaying palm trees. While this is certainly true, there is much more to Hawaii than just its stunning landscape. The Hawaiian islands are home to a rich culture that is celebrated in many ways, including through the music of the Hawaiian ukulele.
In this blog post, we will explore the history and importance of the Hawaiian ukulele. We will also discuss why this unique instrument has become such an important part of Hawaiian culture.
Where Did The Ukulele Come From?
The Ukulele is a small, guitar-like instrument that originated in Hawaii in the 19th century. It is unclear exactly how the Ukulele came to Hawaii, but it is thought to have been brought to the islands by Portuguese immigrants who were skilled in making stringed instruments.
The word “ukulele” comes from the Hawaiian words “uku” meaning “flea” and “lele” meaning “jumping,” which may refer to the small size of the instrument or the quick, staccato style of playing. The Ukulele quickly became popular in Hawaii, and its unique sound soon spread to other parts of the world.
The Ukulele Quickly Became Popular In Hawaii
The Ukulele quickly became a huge part of Hawaiian tradition and culture. It was modified to suit the local musical taste and celebrations. It was adapted to fit into luaus, hula celebrations, and much more.
Hawaiian Ukulele Popularity
The Hawaiian royal family’s support solidified the ukulele’s place as a staple in Hawaiian music. King David Kalākaua, known as The Merrie Monarch and the last king of the Hawaiian kingdom, adored the ukulele so much that he incorporated it into traditional Hawaiian performances and songs.
King Kalākaua and his younger sister, Lili’uokalani (who would later become queen after him), frequently held ukulele songwriting competitions. The rulers of Hawaii made every effort to integrate the ukulele into Hawaiian musical culture.
The ukulele remained popular in Hawaii. Israel “Iz” Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole, affectionately known as “Bruddah Iz” amongst locals, was one of the most renowned ukulele players. His cover of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World hit No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s list of best-selling singles in both 1956 and 1998.
Jake Shimabukuro is a prominent composer and ukulele player from Hawaii who gained worldwide popularity in 2006 when a video of him playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps went viral on Youtube. Since then, Jakehas gone on to achieve worldwide recognition releasing multiple albus, playing alongside renowned musicians, and going on tour.
Enjoy Hawaiian Culture & Music
If you’re interested in hearing some of this engaging and authentic music, come visit Hawaii and enjoy a live music show or luau! You’ll get a glimpse of the greatness that comes with the ukulele. Pack your bags and get ready for a magical vacation.