Today we celebrate Hawaiian musicians of two sorts: the 2012 inductees into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame, and the last male monarch of Hawai'i, David Kalakaua, the Merrie Monarch. The group Olomana will be honored as inductees in the Hall of Fame at a celebration at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu on May 1st, along with Sam Li'a, Benny Kalama, Alice Namakelua, and Loea Hulas Mika, Ilalaule, and Kuluwaimaka. We present music by Olomana, Don Ho, and Keola Beamer in honor of the inductees.
Born David Laʻamea Kamanakapuʻu Mahinulani Nalaiaehuokalani Lumialani Kalākaua in 1836, King Kalakaua reigned as king of Hawai'i from 1874 until his death in 1891.
Robert Louis Stevenson described Kalakaua as "a cultured intellectual of unusual mental powers." Poet and lyricist, athlete and consummate politician, he was responsible for initiating the resurgence of Hawaiian cultural arts, particularly hula. He was also the first royal monarch to circumnavigate the world, in 1881. Upon his untimely death at age 45 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, Kalakaua is said to have uttered his last words: "Tell my people I tried." Though the Hawaiian monarchy was ended only nine years later when Queen Liliuokalani (Kalakaua's sister) ceded the islands to merchant interests, Kalakaua's efforts to preserve the Hawaiian culture succeeded, and today, he is celebrated as a champion patron of Hawaiian arts. Listen in as we play songs by, for, and about King Kalakaua.