Ukulele is not as popular as the piano and guitar, it is more of a niche instrument. But in fact, as early as the 19th century, the ukulele world has already produced many talents.
So, follow along with this article to meet the people who have contributed significantly to the development of the ukulele.
1. Ernest Ka’ai, the father of the ukulele
Ernest Ka'ai, born in 1881, is the first ukulele player in Hawaii and is known as "the greatest ukulele player in Hawaii". The performer is also a talented songwriter and organizes the Royal Hawaiian Touring Choir to sing his compositions, while also running the Kaai Ukulele Manufacturing Company.
Ernest was the most influential musical figure in Hawaii during the first half of the 20th century.
2. Roy Smeck, the String Wizard
Born in Pennsylvania in 1900, Roy Smeck rose to fame in his 20s with his characteristic acrobatic playing. In addition to the ukulele, Roy is also an excellent player of banjo and guitar.
Roy has devoted his entire life to the field of music. Knowing he wasn't good at singing, he created novel dances and stunts to complement his performances.
Such as playing the ukulele with teeth, or swinging the ukulele in the rhythm, or even playing it with a violin bow. This is not only in that era, but even now it is a very novel form of performance.
Therefore, when he was inducted into the Ukulele Hall of Fame in 1998, the interpretation of him the quotation was: "For more than 60 years, 'String Wizard' has attracted the hearts of all listeners".
3. Jesse Kalima, Low G first man
Jesse Kalima was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1920, to a mother who was a music teacher and a hula dancer. When Jesse was 6 years old, his mother used the ukulele as an inspiration to bring him into the world of music. Jesse has been addicted to music ever since, trying to play everything he learned in high school in the school ensemble on the ukulele.
At age 15, Jesse competed in the 1935 District Amateur Competition at the Princess Theater in Honolulu. He became an instant hit with "Stars And Stripes Forever". Jesse pursues a deeper sound in the ukulele tone. So, when almost everyone in Hawaii was using the S-type (treble) ukulele, he vigorously promoted the C-type (mid-tone) ukulele. He also reworked the fourth string one octave lower (i.e. Low G).
4. Eddie Kamae, Son of Hawaii
Eddie Kamae's greatest contribution to the ukulele may have been his rekindling of the love for Hawaiian music and was a major figure in the revival of Hawaiian culture. Eddie has lived in the Hawaiian Islands his whole life and has never left Hawaii. His affection and responsibility for Hawaiian culture are self-evident.
His band, Sons of Hawaii, which he co-founded with legendary singer and guitarist Gabby Pahinui, has also been influential in the world. Many of their songs are the result of Eddie's research on long-neglected Hawaiian melodies and lyrics.
Eddie did not encounter any challenges in playing the traditional ukulele in the early days, so he began to study the performance of classical, Latin, jazz, pop, and other music on the ukulele. And by himself, he changed the traditional ukulele playing method, and transformed the ukulele from a rhythm instrument with limited functions to an independent instrument with unlimited potential.
5. Herb Ohta, the ukulele of all musical genres
Herb Ohta, who studied under Eddie Kamae, is naturally not inferior, and even Ohta-San's son Herb Ohta Jr was influenced by him. In the second half of the 20th century, no one in the world should have matched Herb's exploration of the ukulele in various musical genres.
He is also the artist with the most recordings of ukulele music, more than almost any ukulele player in history, and has influenced many modern ukulele players.