A Proud Tradition of Hawaiian Music

11/10/2020

The tradition of Hawaiian Music

Much like the cultural diversity of the Islands, the Hawaiian music scene offers its own melting pot of genres, which includes everything from rock ’n’ roll and rap to Hawaiian and pop to jazz and a Hawaiian form of reggae known as Jawaiian. But this hasn’t always been the case. When Hawaiian music emerged as a popular genre early in the 20th century, the music was largely known as hapa haole, half foreign.

The royal Kalākaua family played a pivotal role in this evolutionary time for Hawaiian music. While traditional musicians performed at palace events, King Kalākaua, Queen Lili‘uokalani, and their siblings, Likelike and Leleiohoku, were all also accomplished composers. Kalākaua would compose Hawai‘i Ponoi, today the State anthem, while Lili‘uokalani would pen hundreds of melodies, including the quintessentially Hawaiian Aloha ‘Oe. Both were composed in the hapa haole style.

There was much that was different in this new musical genre. To start, the instrumental components were totally new, drums and rattles replaced, by adaptations, instruments brought to the islands in the mid-to-late 19th century, including the ‘ukulele and the steel guitar.

Singers, too, offered their own innovations, adding unique tonalities like falsetto singing to the repertoire. Like many of the Hawaiians who would play them, these new instruments and vocalizations were hybrid variations of the hapa haole style, with Hawaiian-themed songs becoming national hits, thanks to stars like Al Jolson and Sophie Tucker.

Soon after, a growing number of home-grown composers and musicians were taking Hawaiian music from its kani ka pila (impromptu backyard jam sessions) origins onto the stage, performing for both a local audience and the growing number of visitors coming to the Islands. Classics like My Little Grass Shack (Johnny Noble), Waikīkī (Andy Cummings), Lovely Hula Hands (R. Alex Anderson) and The Hawaiian Wedding Song (Charles E. King) expressed aloha and romance, beautiful moments and places, popularized by the ‘ukulele, steel guitar, bass and piano—the typical Hawaiian quartet.

Decade by decade, hapa haole music matched the musical styles of the day, ranging from ballads and ragtime to fox trots and lullabies. The popularity of sheet-music melodies led to the Big Band era, with a national audience for Hawaiian music cultivated by Hawai‘i Calls, a live radio broadcast aired weekly from the Moana Hotel in Waikīkī. Starting in the mid-1930s, host Webley Edwards brought the sweet sounds of aloha into American homes, showcasing singers like Alfred Apaka, who would become popular nationally.

Furthermore, tourism provided a catalyst to the already developing interest in a revival of Hawaiian culture, with hula and Hawaiian music in the lead. There were many who played an influential role in this cultural revival, including such singers/musicians/composers as Bill Lincoln, Gabby Pahinui, Hilo Hattie, Irmgard Aluli (of Maui’s musical Farden clan), the Ho‘opi‘i Brothers, Emma Veary and Aunty Genoa Keawe. Even Elvis would “catch the wave,” making muscial films that updated the hapa haole style.

However in 1974, the hapa haole music took a folksy turn, playing to deep-rooted emotions that linked the Hawaiian past and the Age of Aquarius, a reference to the heyday of of the hippie and New Age movements in the 1960s and 1970s.  Peter Moon and Sunday Manoa, Jerry Santos and Olomana, the Beamer Brothers, Cecilio and Kapono and the Brothers Cazimero played to a local audience with musical artistry and a soulful understanding of Hawaiian spirit. And then there was Don Ho.

If any one singer came to be identified with Hawaiian music, it was Don Ho and the Tiny Bubbles fame that came his way in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. Elderly hearts fluttered to tunes crafted with playful good humor and a flirtatious wink-of-the-eye. Ho’s reign may long be over but Hawaiian music has continued to flourish, continuing a Golden Age now decades in the making and still going strong. Stellar talents like Henry Kapono, Ke‘ali‘i Reichel, Jake Shimabukuro, Amy Hanaiali‘i Gilliom, Makana, Jack Johnson and the late Israel “Brother Iz” Kamakawiwaole  have broadened and internationalized contemporary Hawaiian music’s appeal, ensuring a long creative tradition of Hawaiian music into the future.



Want to learn more about Hawaiian Music and the culture of the islands? Subscribe to keep up with the latest posts

  • 1
    Select Your Destination
change
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort | Hawaii
  • Beachfront location
  • Home of Duke’s Waikiki
  • Hawaii’s best live music venue, Blue Note Hawaii
  • Voyager 47 Club Lounge
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort | Hawaii
  • Home of Hawaiian Music, Kani Ka Pila Grille
  • Renovated modern guest rooms
  • Immersive cultural activities
  • Voyager 47 Club Lounge
  • Some public spaces may not be available
  • Take advantage of special Preview Rates
Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Hawaii’s first and only craft hotel
  • Home of The Beachcomber Originals
  • Hawaiian Aroma Caffe, Waikiki’s most Instagrammed coffee shop
  • Island’s longest bar at Maui Brewing Co
Waikiki Malia by Outrigger |Hawaii
  • Intimate retreat for adventure seekers
  • Easy access to Waikiki Beach
  • Choice for value-minded families and groups
  • Spacious guest rooms and studios
  • Offering connecting rooms and kitchenettes
OHANA Waikiki East by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Spacious guest rooms with kitchenettes
  • Ideal for large groups or families
  • Steps to Waikiki Beach and International Market Place
  • Onsite restaurants – Appetito Craft Pizza & Wine Bar and Tanaka of Tokyo
Airport Honolulu Hotel | Hawaii
  • Only half a mile from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
  • Pet friendly
  • Convenient for business travelJust minutes from Pearl Harbor
Waikiki Shore by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Only resort condo directly on Waikiki Beach
  • Sweeping panoramic ocean views
  • Family friendly
  • Perfect for extended stays
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Regency on Beachwalk Waikiki by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Intimate, boutique style condo resort
  • Situated in the Waikiki Beach Walk shopping and dining district
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Honua Kai Resort & Spa | Maui
  • 38 tropical beachfront acres
  • 3-acre aquatic playground
  • AAA Four Diamond Award accredited
  • Luxury, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites on Kaanapali Beach
The Kapalua Villas Maui | Hawaii
  • Located on 22,000-acre Kapalua Resort
  • Choose from 3 beaches and 11 restaurants
  • Ocean and golf room views
  • Offering two magnificent golf courses
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Palms at Wailea Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Located within the world-famous Wailea Resort community
  • A short drive from the Shops at Wailea and beaches
  • Near Wailea’s most renowned restaurants
Aina Nalu Lahaina by Outrigger | Maui
  • Boutique-style condos in heart of Lahaina
  • Two blocks away from Front Street
  • Walking distance to shops and restaurants
Kaanapali Maui at the Eldorado by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Fronts the fairways of Kaanapali Beach Resort
  • Short walk from Whalers Village
  • Featuring three swimming pools
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Royal Kahana Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Ocean view of Molokai and Lanai
  • Boasts oceanfront pool
  • Private lanai
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Offering stunning views of Lanai and Molokai
  • Newly renovated condos
  • Oceanfront on property dining at the Gazebo Restaurant
Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa Kauai by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Heated river pool running through two-acre property
  • Features flumed water slides
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Lae Nani Resort Kauai | Hawaii
  • Oceanfront condos
  • Includes an ocean pool within a natural stone breakwater
  • Adjacent to the Coconut MarketPlace
Kiahuna Plantation Resort Kauai by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Cottage-style beachfront condos
  • Complimentary access to Poipu Athletic Club
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Welcome to Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa
Watch the majestic manta rays that swim through Keauhou Bay. Or spend your day relaxing at the spa. It all starts here, on Hawaii Island.
Kanaloa at Kona by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Set on 18 oceanfront acres
  • Boasts 3 swimming pools and 2 tennis courts
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Fairway Villa Waikoloa by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Guests treated to infinity pool and lava rock whirlpool
  • Surrounded by Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed golf course
  • Selection of on property dining options
Kohala Coast Vacation Rentals by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Five distinct properties to choose from
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
  • Close to upscale King’s Shops and Queen’s Market Place
  • Golf at Beach Course
Royal Sea Cliff Kona by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Set on a lava rock bluff
  • Panoramic views of the Kona coast
  • 5-minute drive to restaurants and shops
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Castaway Island, Fiji Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
  • Beachfront bures
  • Complimentary beach services
  • Kava ceremony welcomes guests
  • Wood-carving guest activity
  • Enjoy Meke traditional song and dance
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
  • Beachfront bures
  • Offering Meimei nanny service
  • Talai butler service available
  • Named #1 Family Resort
  • Amazing firewalking ceremony
  • Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
    • Luxury beachfront suites
    • Mauritian Rum tasting experience
    • Dance to Sega music
    • Relax on private beach
    • Complimentary kid’s club
    Evening at Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
    • Located beachfront on Lamai Beach
    • 2 swimming pools
    • Fitness center
    • Restaurants and in-room dining
    • 3 meeting rooms
    Garden Villa | Outrigger Khao Lak Beach Resort
    • Located beachfront on Bangsak Beach
    • Swimming pool
    • Fitness center
    • Restaurants and in-room dining
    • 3 meeting rooms
    Surin Terrace | Outrigger Surin Beach Resort
    • Located on Surin Beach
    • Boutique resort
    • 2 swimming pools
    • Restaurant and in-room dining
    Waikiki Beach | Hawaii
    • Famous for Waikiki Beach
    • Hike Diamond Head Crater
    • Take a historical journey at Pearl Harbor
    • Birthplace of legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku
    • Home to Lolani Palace, US’s only royal place
    Experience a gorgeous Maui sunset
    • Voted “Best Island in the US”
    • Home to Haleakala volcano
    • Famed for whale watching during the winter months
    • Famous scenic stretch road to Hana
    • Mile long of sandy shore at Kaanapali Beach
    Beaches of Kauai | Hawaii
    • Nicknamed the Garden Island
    • Known for lush valleys, waterfalls and hiking trails
    • Has more beaches than any other Hawaiian Island
    • Most hiking trails than an other Hawaiian Island
    • Largest coffee plantation in the US
    Hawaii Island (Big Island)
    • Often referred to as the “Big Island”
    • Kilauea volcano is the most active and largest in the world
    • Known for black sand beaches
    • Grows most of the world’s macadamia nuts
    • Home to some of the world’s largest telescopes
    • 2
      Select Your Stay Dates
    • 3
      Choose Rooms & Guests
    Adults
    Children
    Rooms
    Apply A Special Rate
    Oh snap! It looks like the rate you selected is not available.
    Your Selection Has Been Applied
    Your Summary
    Back to Top