A Taste of Hawai`i in Song and Dance

Bill Wynne (Music) and Skye Randazzo (Hula)
 Bill Wynne and Skye Randazzo


Behind The Mele: About the Songs and Composers



Words & Music By: J. Kealoha

King David La`amea KalakauaDavid Laʻamea Kamananakapu Mahinulani Naloiaehuokalani Lumialani Kalākaua was the penultimate monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. A true trend-setter, Kalākaua was the first king to circumnavigate the globe – befriending the kings and queens of such countries as England and France (who are referenced in this song) He is often referred to as The Merrie Monarch for he was a patron of the arts and culture who pleased his people greatly by lifting the kapu (bans or restrictions) on the public performance of uniquely Hawaiian art forms such as mele (music) and hula (dance). Kawika (as he is affectionately referred to by his people, Kawika being a Hawaiianized version of “David”) insisted that hula be performed nightly on the palace grounds. For this reason, the annual Merrie Monarch Festival – held in Hilo every year since 1970 and thoughts of as the Olympics of Hula as it draws nearly three dozen hula hālau (formal hula schools) from around the world – was named in his honor. Kawika was also a prolific composer – having written dozens of songs still performed today. Along with his siblings – Prince William Pitt Leleiohoku, Princess Miriam Likelike, and Princess (who would become queen) Liliʻuokalani – they were all talented songwriters who would become known for their talents collectively as Nā Lani ʻEha (“The Royal Four”).

This song is of a genre of Hawaiian song known as the mele inoa ­or “name song” – a type of Hawaiian poetry in which the honoree is cited by name. Often the subject of the song is referred to anonymously with the common technique of referring to them as a type of flower. This is seen here too – the composer referring to Kawika as ka heke aʻo nā pua or “the head flower.”

Eia nō Kawika e | This is David
O ka heke aʻo nā pu | The greatest of all flowers

Ka uwila ma ka hikina e | (He is) the lightning in the east
Mālamalama Hawaiʻi e | That brightens Hawaiʻi|

Kuʻi e ka lono Pelekani e | News reached England
A lohe ke kuʻini ʻo Palani e | Also heard by the French queen

Na wai e ka pua i luna e | Who is this flower of high rank?
Na Kapaʻakea he makua e | Kapaʻakea is his father

Haʻina ʻia mai ka puana e | Tell the refrain
Kalani Kāwika he inoa e | King David is his name

Sunday Manoa - Guava Jam (LP Cover)This arrangement opens with the rhythms of various ancient Hawaiian percussion instruments: the pahu drum, the ipu heke gourd, the kala`au sticks, and the `ulili gourd rattle. Before the arrival of the missionaries these percussion instruments were the only accompaniment to Hawaiian song which took the form of two- and three-note chant. The song then alternates between a two-note melody – reflecting that it was indeed an ancient chant – in a minor mode and then something slightly more modern and melodic. Bill chose this arrangement to show the contrast between ancient and modern Hawaiian music – an arrangement which captivated the impressionable youngster when he first heard it on the album Guava Jam by the seminal contemporary Hawaiian music group The Sunday Manoa. (The percussion heard today is sampled from the album which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its 1969 release.) If you only ever hear one Hawaiian music album after today, Bill strongly recommends Guava Jam for its success in bridging the gap between the Hawaiian music of yesterday and today.


"You Gotta Feel Aloha" and "(Live A Little) Hawaiian Style" LP Covers



Words & Music By: Al & Clay Naluai


Words & Music By: Robi Kahakalau and Bryan Kessler

"Do The Hula" by Don McDiarmid (Original 1936 Sheet Music Cover)


Words & Music By: Don McDiarmid

In this medley the songs are all of a subgenre of Hawaiian music often referred to as hapa-haole (meaning "half-foreign" or "half-Caucasian"), a type of song which speaks of uniquely Hawaiian people, places, things, and virtues but written in the English language for the appreciation of a wider audience. The first two date to the 1970s and 1990s respectively, but the third – “Do The Hula” – dates to the 1930s and is special to Bill as it was written by Don McDiarmid who founded the Hula Records label which granted Bill a recording contract in 2005 when he won the grand prize in the Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contest. (More about the falsetto singing tradition shortly.)




Words & Music By: Traditional (Translated by Kanani Mana | Edited by Dr. Barbara Price)

In mele (Hawaiian poetry), a commonly employed poetic technique - known as kaona – uses Shakespearean-type imagery and layers of multiple meaning to reference otherwise unmentionable people, places, or activities. For example, love making is often portrayed (among myriad other ways) through water references such as rain, mist, or spray (as in the first verse here).

Genoa Keawe's "Party Hulas" - Original LP CoverWhen Bill performs, he is almost always honoring his heroes and mentors in Hawaiian culture – many of whom have since become his dear friends. One such mentor was Genoa Keawe, often referred to as the First Lady of Hawaiian Music. During a nearly seven-decade career, Aunty Genoa (as she was affectionately called) recorded more than a dozen albums and more than 140 singles. The entrepreneurial lady was also a hula instructor. It would be impossible to put together a program of Hawaiian music and hula that did not in some way reference everyone’s favorite aunty, and Bill and Skye perform the song here with tremendous love and admiration for their hero – just as they did previously on the occasion of Genoa Keawe’s 100th birthday in October 2018. The album cover pictured here is considered one of the most important in the history of Hawaiian music. It marks a turning point in the style of music on record from music for listening to music for the hula. This style of Hawaiian music is performed with no instrumental breaks (or solos) since the hula dancer cannot continue dancing when no words are being sung for the dancer to interpret. This album launched the genre on record known strictly as “hula music” which is still popular today and which is considered Bill’s specialty.

He aloha wau iā ʻoe lā | I love you
Kou pāpālina Lahilahi
| And your dainty cheeks
I ka hoʻopulu mau ʻia lā
| Always dampened
I ka hunehune o ke kai
| By the sea spray

He aha nō hoʻi kau lā
| What's the reason for
O ke ala wiki ʻana mai
| Hurrying towards me
Ua ʻike iho nō ʻoe lā
| You know
A he pua ʻoe ua ʻako ʻia
| You're a flower that's been plucked

Hāʻawi hemolele ʻia lā
| Freely given
Mai ke poʻo ā ka hi`u
| From head to toe
He aha nō hoʻi kau lā
| Why
ʻO ka pûlalelale ana mai
| The hurry to possess

Haʻina mai ka puana lā
| I told you before
Kou pāpālina Lahilahi
| Of your dainty cheeks
Haʻina hou ka puana lā
| I'll tell you again
He aloha wau iā ʻoe
| I love you



Words & Music By: Edith Kanakaʻole

Limu (Hawaiian Seaweed)One of the newer songs in this set – dating only to the late 1970s – this song was a happy accident! Hula master and haku mele (composer, or literally “weaver of poetry”) Edith Kanaka`ole cut one and only one record in her lifetime. When the recording sessions were completed, the producer announced that there wasn’t enough material to fill up two sides of a long-playing (LP) record. Edith was short a song. So she grabbed a napkin and a pen and began scribbling down this song which has become a classic of the Hawaiian repertoire – a standard loved and performed by hula dancers from Honolulu to Yokohama – and it is frankly the only song from those sessions that anyone can remember.

This mele also employs the poetic technique known as kaona. Limu (or “seaweed”) is a delicacy among the Hawaiian people. It comes in many different shapes, colors, textures, scents, and flavors – just like we do – making this a love song in the typical Hawaiian style.


Kumu Hula (Hula Master) Edith Kanakaole Teaches A Class In 1974

He hoʻoheno kē ʻike aku | Such a delight to see
Ke kai moana nui lā | The great big ocean
Nui ke aloha e hiʻipoi nei | So familiar and very cherished
Me ke ʻala o ka līpoa | With its fragrance of the līpoa

He līpoa i pae i ke one | It is līpoa which washed ashore
Ke one hinuhinu lā | Onto the shiny white sand
Wela i ka lā kē hehi aʻe | Hot from the heating sun as you step on it
Mai manaʻo he pono kēia | Don't think that this is fun

Hoʻokohukohu e ka limu kohu | How enticing is the display of limu kohu
Ke kau i luna ō nā moku la | Atop the rocks
ʻO ia moku ʻula la e hō | Enticing one to pick them
ʻOni ana i ʻōi ʻaneʻi | As they sway to and fro

Haʻina mai ka puana | Let the story be told
Ka līpoa me ka limu kohu | Of the līpoa and the limu kohu
Hoapili ʻoe me ka pāhe'e | Close companions of the pāheʻe
ʻAnoni me ka līpalu | Intermingled with the līpalu



Words & Music By: John Pi`ilani Watkins

`Ulupalakua Ranch - Late 1800s`Ulu is the breadfruit coveted by Captain Bleigh in Mutiny On The Bounty. The legend goes that an ancient Maui chief had runners deliver breadfruit on their backs – giving this town its name, “breadfruit ripened on the back.”

About halfway up the 10,000-foot climb upon the slopes of the dormant volcano Haleakala on the island of Maui is `Ulupalakua. Today it is a winery where wines are made from everything from grapes to pineapples (the latter surprisingly dry). But a century ago `Ulupalakua was a ranch where Hawaiians learned to rope and ride for the first time from real Mexican cowboys (called “paniolo,” a cognate for the language they spoke, espaniol). Here the history of the place is told in double-entendre – the hula dancer roping and riding with the aim of lassoing a sweetheart.

Kaulana mai nei | Famous `Ulupalakua Ranch - 1950s
Aʻo ʻUlupalakua
| Is Ulupalakua
He ʻīnikiniki ahiahi
| The pangs of the cold evening air
Ka home aʻo paniolo
| The home of the cowboys

E wehi e kuʻu lei
| My lei is an adornment
Aʻo ʻUlupalakua
| Of ʻUlupalakua
ʻOnaona me ka ʻawapuhi
| The sweet scent of ginger is
He nani maʻoli nō
| Truly beautiful

Haʻina mai ka puana
| Tell the refrain
Aʻo ʻUlupalakua
| Of ʻUlupalakua
He ʻīnikiniki ahiahi
| The pangs of the cold evening air
Ka home aʻo paniolo
| The home of the cowboy


Music By: Dennis Kamakahi

Composer/Guitarist Dennis Kamakahi (1953-2014)Having written nearly 300 songs in his lifetime, Dennis Kamakahi was almost as prolific a composer as Queen Liliʻuokalani upon whose works he modeled his own. Among those many compositions “Hilo Rag” is a rarity as it one of the few composed as an instrumental for the slack key guitar. In this case, Kamakahi, whose beautiful guitar playing is heard in the soundtrack of the Academy Award-nominated film The Descendants, took as his inspiration the ragtime song styles of such piano players as Scott Joplin and applied the technique to the slack key guitar – resulting in this jaunty number which he named for a town on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi he so loved.

What is the slack key guitar? The Smithsonian states that “the art of the slack-key guitar is to Hawai'i as the flamenco guitar is to Spain and the Delta blues guitar is to Mississippi.” Although there are competing legends as to how this uniquely Hawaiian style arose, the most logical seems to originate with the Mexican paniolo mentioned in our last song. The story goes that the Mexican cowboys and their Hawaiian trainees would sit around the campfire in the evenings – the Mexicans regaling the Hawaiians with the sounds of the guitar, an instrument they had never seen before. When they departed, the Mexicans left behind their guitars as tokens of friendship – but failed to teach the Hawaiians how to tune them. This left every player to their own devices – each arriving at his own tuning and having to remember where they put to their fingers as it was different for every player. These tunings now number on the dozens and were handed down through families from generation to generation and remain in many cases carefully guarded secrets. Watch as Bill rifles through as many as three different tunings on three successive numbers.



Words & Music By: Queen Lydia Kamakaʻeha Liliʻuokalani

Queen Lydia Kamaka`eha Lili`uokalaniArguably the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom was also its most prolific composer with more than 300 songs to her credit – many, such as this one, written while under house arrest for eight months in the bedroom of ʻIolani Palace where her subjects would sneak the daily news of the fight against the provisional government in bouquets wrapped with the latest edition of the newspaper.

Ku`u Pua I Paoakalani - A Composition by Queen Lili`uokalani (Sheet Music)Paoakalani is about a place no longer there – unless you know where to look. Translated “royal perfume,” Paoakalani was an estate in Waikiki – once a playground of kings and queens – which Lydia inherited from her grandfather, ʻAikanaka, and where she spent time composing and translating among the gardens there. No, the estate is of course long gone and the gardens with it in this era where Waikiki has been overrun by tourists. But Bill says you can still feel the mana (spiritual power) of the kings and queens when you stand on the grounds of the ʻAlohilani Pacific Beach Hotel where once stood Paoakalani – not ironically at the intersection of streets named for the last and penultimate reigning monarchs, Liliʻuokalani and Kalakaua Avenues.

E ka gentle breeze a pa mai nei | O gentle breeze that wafts to me
Hoʻohāliʻaliʻa mai ana iaʻu | Sweet, cherished memories of you

E kuʻu sweet never fading flower | Of my sweet never fading flower
I pua i ka uka o Paoakalani | That blooms in the fields of Paoakalani

ʻIke mau i ka nani o nā pua | I've often seen those beauteous flowers
O ka uka o Uluhaimalama | That grew at Uluhaimalama

ʻAʻole naʻe hoʻi e like | But none of those could be compared
Me kuʻu pua i ka laʻi o Paoakalani | To my flower that blooms in the fields of Paoakalani




Words & Music By: James Iʻi

Makee's Island (Makee `Ailana) - 19th CenturyIn the 19th century nestled near where the southeast corner of the area now known as Waikiki ends and the Honolulu neighborhood of Kapahulu begins was a tiny island named for the famed captain of a sailing ship – Makee’s Island (or Makee `Ailana). This island – separated from Waikiki by a small ravine – measured no more than 200 feet by 900 feet, but because it required some effort to get to, it became a popular spot for lovers to get away for a clandestine rendezvous. There are two poetic references to love-making here: the water and the rocking chair (the motion of which implies more carnal desires). Also mentioned are the two or three other couples present – heightening the risk of getting ratted out.

Sadly, the island is no longer there. The ravine has since dried up, and what was the tiny island is now the parking lot of the Honolulu Zoo.

Makee ʻailana ke aloha lā | I love Makee islandMakee's Island (Makee `Ailana) - 19th Century
ʻĀina i ka ʻehuʻehu o ke kai
| Land freshened by the sea spray

ʻElua ʻekolu nō mākou | There were two or three couples with us
I ka ʻailana māhiehie | On this charming island

Ka leo o ka wai kaʻu aloha | I love the sound of the water
I ka ʻī mai he anu kāua | When it speaks, we two are chilled

Inā ʻo iū me mī nei | I wish you were here with me
Noho ʻoe i ka noho paipai | Sitting in the rocking chair

Haʻina ʻia mai ana ka puana | The story is told of
Makee ʻAilana huʻe ka manaʻo | Makee ʻAilana, with its fond memories


Hawaiian Steel Guitar



Words & Music By: Mary Montano

Joseph Kekuku - Inventor of the Hawaiian Steel GuitarAlthough performed as an instrumental today, this song is of a subgenre of Hawaiian composition known as mele pana (“place song”). The place in this case is a home on the windward side of the island of O`ahu – Kalāhikiola, the home of philanthropist Mary Foster whose charitable acts included the creation of the Foster Botanical Gardens in Honolulu. Foster was also instrumental in introducing the Baha’i faith to Hawai`i.

Kahana Bay Beach Park - O`ahu, Hawai`iHere Bill introduces the steel guitar – a uniquely Hawaiian invention. Unlike the slack key guitar, the invention of the steel guitar is well documented and has a local connection… In 1889, a 15-year-old Kamehameha Schools student named Joseph Kekuku from the village of Lāʻie on the island of Oʻahu picked up a rusty bolt from the ground and – accidentally or on purpose – struck it against the strings of his acoustic guitar – creating an unusual sound as the metal-on-metal resulted in a sound with a very desirable sustain (duration of the note). He continued playing guitar with that bolt and later a pocket knife and a steel comb before landing on the variation of the modern steel bar (or slide) used today. In 1919, Kekuku left Hawaiʻi to provide the music for the Broadway musical The Bird of Paradise (which proved so popular that it received film treatments twice – in 1932 and 1951 – although Kekuku appeared in neither). By the age of 58, Kekuku was living in Dover, NJ where he gave steel guitar lessons. On January 16, 1932 the inventor of the steel guitar died in Morristown, NJ and is buried in the Orchard Street Cemetary in Dover, NJ. For this reason the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Hall of Fame is not located in Hawaiʻi but, rather, in New Jersey.



Andy Iona - Composer/Steel Guitarist

Words & Music By: Andy Iona

The lyrics to this jazzy and humorous love song were composed by saxophonist and steel guitarist Andy Iona Long. Long was recruited from Honolulu by hotelier Charles Bremminger to open the now famed Hawaiian Room in the Lexington Hotel at 48th and Lexington in New York City. Having some strange notions about what the local market would perceive as “Hawaiian,” Bremminger insisted that the musicians he employed use their Hawaiian names for added authenticity. And, thus, Andy Iona Long became simply Andy Iona.


Hawaiian Musicians On Tour With Skater Sonja Henie - 1949-1950



Words & Music By: Danny Kuaana

Danny Kuaana - Composer/`Ukulele Player/Falsetto SingerLike the composer of the previous number, Danny Kuaana was another Honolulu-based recruit to the Hawaiian Room of the Lexington Hotel in New York City. In fact, this song was composed while Kuaana was in residence at the Hawaiian Room – making this one of the few Hawaiian-language songs of that era (or any era) composed east of the Mississippi River. This mele employs the typically Hawaiian poetic technique of referring to a secret paramour as pua (or “flower bud”). And it shares a line in common with a song heard earlier: ʻO ʻoe he pua i ʻako ʻia (“You are a flower that has already been plucked” – the translation for which we shall leave to the imagination).

This song is a classic of both the hula repertoire and the falsetto canon. Just as with the slack key guitar, the origins of falsetto singing in Hawaiʻi are unclear. But we can make some educated guesses. It dates to the same period as the missionaries and the introduction of harmony singing, so it is highly possible that the Hawaiians were mimicking the European countertenors. A less likely scenario speaks of a king who forbade women from singing and dancing in the court – leaving the men to sing the higher registers to fill in the gaps in the newly arrived harmonies of their hymn sings. But most likely the style has its roots in the ancient Hawaiian chant forms. Whereas in Western singing the goal for the singer is to transition from their full voice to their higher falsetto register as seamlessly as possible, in Hawaiian falsetto there is an exaggerated break in the voice – almost like yodeling – between the lower and higher registers. The singer of Hawaiian song uses this technique to full effect to express sadness or alternately exhilaration. The style did not receive a Hawaiian name – leo kiʻekiʻe – until the Hawaiian renaissance of the 1970s. This is considered Bill’s area of specialization in Hawaiian music – having earned a recording contract with Hula Records for both his falsetto technique and accurate use of the Hawaiian language at the 2005 Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contest.

He uʻi nō ʻoe ke ʻike mai | You are beautiful to behold
He pua hoʻoheno i ka lā
| In the sunlight you are like a lovely flower
ʻO ʻoe nō kaʻu i aloha
| You are mine to love
He pua i milimili ai
| A flower to caress

ʻO ʻoe he pua i ʻako ʻia
| You are a flower that has been plucked
He mea hoʻopili i ka ʻili
| Someone to hold close
Nou ē koʻu manaʻo
| Constantly do I think of you
Ua ʻohu i ka lei hīnano
| Adorned with the hala blossom lei

Mai none mai none mai ʻoe
| Don't, oh don't tease me
Kuʻu lei ē hoʻokahi nō
| My dearly beloved
Kou maka ʻeuʻeu
| Don't wink your naughty eyes
He aha aʻe nei kāu hana
| Can't you see what you are doing to me?

Haʻina mai ka puana
| Thus ends my song
Haʻina he uʻi i ka lā
| My lovely flower in the sun
ʻO ʻoe nō kaʻu i aloha
| Dearly, do I love you
He pua i milimili ai
| A flower to caress


Words & Music By: Lei Collins and Maddy Lam

Composer Lei CollinsCopyrighted 70 years ago in 1949, “Ke Aloha” is considered the quintessential standard for hula dancers and singers of Hawaiian songs alike – Hawaiʻi’s equivalent of “Stardust.” As in previous mele the anonymity of the protagonist is maintained by using a flower metaphor, but in this case only the fragrance of the flower (not the flower itself) is mentioned. And in another example of commonly used Hawaiian metaphor, nanea means almost the exact opposite of relaxing.



"Ke Aloha" - Original Manuscript (written in Maddy Lam's handwriting}Ma kuʻu poli mai ʻoe | Come to my bosom
E kuʻu ipo aloha | My beloved sweetheart
He ʻala onaona kou | Your fragrance is alluring
No ke ano ahiahi | In the evening time

Ma muli aʻo kou leo | Because of your wish
Ua malu neia kino | This person is set apart
He kino palupalu kou | Your person is gentle
I ka hana a ke aloha | At making love

Ua laʻi no hoi au | I am very constant
Ka hanu a ka ipo | The breath of my sweetheart
E hoʻoipoipo nei | Wooing here
Nanea pu kāua | We relax together

Haʻina mai ka puana | The story is told of
E kuʻu ipo aloha | My beloved sweetheart
He ʻala onaona kou | Your fragrance is alluring
No ke ano ahiahi | In the evening time



Words & Music By: Traditional

Rocking Chair (made of native Hawaiian koa acacia wood)You already know from “Makee ʻAilana” earlier in this set what the rocking chair metaphor means to the Hawaiian composer. Here an entire song is built around that metaphor – a reminiscence by a couple approaching their twilight years and the desires that still keep them young at heart.

Pupue iho au i mehana | I crouched down to keep

Hone ana o uese i kuʻu poli | The thought of my sweetie pressed to my bosom

Me he ala nō e ʻī mai ana
| She seemed to be saying to me

ʻAuhea kuʻu lei rose lani? | Where is my wreath of red roses?

Malihini ʻoe, malihini au
| You are a stranger, I am a stranger too

Ma ka ihu kāua kamaʻāina | But when we kiss each other, we are old friends

Inā ʻo you me aʻu
| If you were here with me

Kau pono i ka noho paipai | We would rock together on a rocking chair

Haʻina ʻia mai ka puana
| This is the end of my song

Hone ana o uese i kuʻu poli | A dream of my sweetie pressed to my bosom



Words & Music By: Teddy Randazzo

Composer Teddy Randazzo and Daughter SkyeThis song is very special to our hula dancer, Skye, as her father composed the music and lyrics for renowned Hawaiian songstress Marlene Sai nearly 40 years ago. It was a huge hit locally but certainly not the composer’s first. You see… The composer in question is Teddy Randazzo who composed such 60s classics as “Hurt So Bad” (a hit first for The Lettermen and later for Linda Ronstadt), “I’m On The Outside Looking In” and “Goin’ Out Of My Head” (both recorded by Little Anthony and The Imperials), and “It’s Gonna Take A Miracle” (first a hit for The Royalettes and again later for Deniece Williams). Brooklyn-born Randazzo was a teen heartthrob singer before finding a career renaissance in composing, arranging, and producing – based largely in Honolulu through the 1970s where he met our hula dancer’s mother.

And the rest – as they say – is history.

The performance of this song is always a rare and special moment as few sing it and nobody but the Randazzo `ohana (family) women dance a hula for it – Shelley Randazzo having choreographed the hula for her husband’s song. Typically, such performances as these close with Queen Lili`uokalani’s enduring “Aloha `Oe” which is not really a song of farewell, but a love song. But Bill and Skye wanted to leave you with a one-of-a-kind performance you are not likely to ever see again.