Hawaiian music for my grandfather's funeral?
June 6, 2012 12:15 PM   Subscribe

My grandfather is 91 and we're helping him plan his funeral. At it, he wants Hawaiian music played. Apparently it's the music he used to hear at dances (in New Zealand) when he met my grandmother in the late 30s/early 1940s. According to the BBC, there was a fad for Hawaiian music in wartime Britain, especially a band called Felix Mendelssohn and his Hawaiian Serenaders, but I can't find much by them. Any ideas? I guess it would be a slow dance kind of song.

I've played him Iz, but he says it's not quite right. He admits he’s not at all musical so perhaps he got the Hawaiian bit wrong but I doubt it. I don't think ukuleles are his bag either.

Bonus points if you can find clips of it, because I'm in London and he's in New Zealand, so I have to send my mother links to play to him to see if that is it.

Any suggestions much appreciated -I'd really like to be able to do this for him. Thanks :)
posted by curious zoe to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I guess it would be a slow dance kind of song.

Most of the postwar Hawaiian stuff I know is exactly the opposite - sort of zany, syncopated jazz. Here's one by the requisite Felix Mendelssohn and his Hawaiian Serenaders that sounds like it is par for the (awesome) course.

There's a strong tradition of joyful music at funerals, Dixieland etc. Maybe this is what he is thinking of?
posted by dirtdirt at 12:26 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

A number of vintage Hawaiian music recordings are in this playlist

and of course if it was in New Zealand there is a chance that it was Maori music and not Hawaiian
posted by 2manyusernames at 12:30 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might get hold of a copy of The Mighty Uke, which is, in part, a history of ukulele music.
posted by endless_forms at 12:37 PM on June 6, 2012

This Amazon CD has a bunch of song titles... some of these are quite famous and therefore there are clips of them by other artists on Youtube, for instance Bing Crosby singing Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula (sorry can't link that from here, but you can Google it.)
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 12:53 PM on June 6, 2012

posted by Postroad at 1:15 PM on June 6, 2012

Some of the Hawai'ian styled songs from UK performers of the 1930s and 1940s: Al Bowlly (?!?) doing "Aloha Oe"; Al Bowlly and Ray Noble doing "Pagan Serernade"; and Roland Peachey and his Royal Hawaiians.

Some of the Hawai'ian balladeers and blues performers of that era: George Kainapa'u and the Royal Hawaiian Serenaders; another number from the Royal Hawaiian Serenaders; Andy Iona; Andy Iona with Louis Armstrong (!); Kalama's Quartet.

My impression is that one of the biggest Hawai'ian styled hits of that era was Hawaiian Wedding Song, by Charles King.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:06 PM on June 6, 2012

My Hawai'ian friends tell me that "Aloha Oe" is played at lots and lots of funerals in Hawai'i. It is a lovely and elegaic song.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:09 PM on June 6, 2012

I'd recommend looking at Lux and Ivy's Favourites - I'm sure there's a few Hawaiian tunes in there. Although they are more rockabilly era than interwar, there may be a few starting points.
posted by mippy at 2:49 PM on June 6, 2012

Another one to consider is the radio show, Hawaii Calls, whose coverage on the airwaves coincides with your grand-dad's time. Here is some YouTube action.
posted by jadepearl at 3:43 PM on June 6, 2012

small derail: 'Aloha Oe' is actually the official Hawaiian state song; written by former (deposed) Hawaiian Queen Liliokulaini.
posted by easily confused at 4:20 PM on June 6, 2012

easily confused: "small derail: 'Aloha Oe' is actually the official Hawaiian state song; written by former (deposed) Hawaiian Queen Liliokulaini"

what? no, Hawaii's state song is Hawai'i Pono 'i.
posted by lex mercatoria at 5:49 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't find an online recording but a great, slow Hawaiian song is "Mauna Kea" by King Bennie Nawahi.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:21 PM on June 6, 2012

Amazon in the U.S. seems to have some stuff from Felix Mendelssohn and his Hawaiian Serenaders.

posted by stray thoughts at 10:02 PM on June 6, 2012

Try Daphne Walker, who was a New Zealander, but had a whole Hawaiian theme.

E.g. Go to this page and check out Lovely Hula Girl.
Definitely a slow-dance style.

And of course, Blue Smoke (mp3 link), one of the first NZ pop songs.
1948, but very much in the style you appear to be looking for.
posted by Elysum at 1:13 AM on June 7, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, this is fantastic and so helpful. My mother is slowly playing her way through these suggestions to him, so hopefully we'll find the right one! Thanks again.
posted by curious zoe at 6:43 AM on June 10, 2012

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