The Ukulele History

In 1879, a Braguinha arrived in Hawaii on a Portuguese ship loaded with laborers destined for the sugar cane fields with a Portuguese instrument called a Machete . Hawaiians made the instrument their own and calling it "ukulele" which translates to "jumping flea," It's believed to have originated because of the way a performer's fingers jump around on the strings.

Three immigrants in particular, Madeiran cabinet makers Manuel Nunes, José do Espírito Santo, and Augusto Dias, are generally credited as the first ukulele makers

Here is a link to a great article on the history of the ukulele by Dagan B.

( from WikipediA ) - best known of several similarly named ships, the Ravenscrag (spelled without the "i") is a British sailing vessel commanded by Capt. Biggam that on 23 August 1879 brought 419 Portuguese immigrants from the Madeira Islands to the Hawaiian Islands to work as contract laborers in the sugarcane plantations. The ship left the Madeiran port of Funchal on 23 April 1879 and took exactly four months to cross the Atlantic Ocean, round Cape Horn, and then sail across the Pacific to Honolulu, Hawaii. Among the passengers were Manuel Nunes, Augusto Dias, Jose do Espirito Santo, and Joao Fernandes, who are credited with introducing the ukulele to Hawaii. This was the second ship of Portuguese immigrants to reach the Islands, having been preceded on 30 September 1878 by the German bark SS Priscilla.

The Ukulele Timeline

Current

Virtuoso musicians such as Jake Shimabukuro and James Hill are altering traditional perceptions of ukulele music. As well as singer / songwriters such as Victoria Vox touring the world

The third wave of the ukulele corresponding the influence of YouTube and the Internet.

Check out all the famous people and musicians associated with the ukulele on the ukulele musicians page .

1950s

Weekly TV host Arthur Godfrey keeps ukuleles in the spotlight.

A shift from the popularity of radio to most household have access to a TV and the second wave of the ukulele craze.

1940s

Ukulele craze revived by GIs returning home from South Pacific after World War II.

1920s

Ukuleles all the rage. This corresponds to the popularity and availability of radio in the decade of the 20s to 40s.

1915

Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California USA unveils ukulele to the world. The Panama–Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was a world's fair held in San Francisco, in the United States, between February 20 and December 4 in 1915. Its ostensible purpose was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but it was widely seen in the city as an opportunity to showcase its recovery from the 1906 earthquake.

1879

Portuguese sailors introduce Hawaiians to small four-stringed instrument that gave rise to the ukulele. King David Kalakaua was influential in the initial rise of popularity of the ukulele.

Notable Players and People That Influenced the Popularity of the Ukulele

David Kalakaua (1836 - 1891)

During his reign hula was revived, after having been banned in 1830 by Queen Ka'ahumanu, who had converted to Christianity. He is also known for having revived surfing and the Hawaiian martial art, Kapu Kuialua.

Kalākaua and his brother and sisters were known as the "Royal Fours" for their musical talents. He wrote "Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī", which is the state song of Hawaii today. His ardent support of the then newly introduced ukulele as a Hawaiian instrument led to its becoming symbolic of Hawaii and Hawaiian culture. He is honored as "Patron of Hawaiian Music Culture" by the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Ukulele Hall of Fame in 1997.

For more in and other influential people and player that have contributed to the various time the ukulele became popular there is not better place then the Ukulele Hall of Fame and their Ukulele Hall of Fame Inductees.

Visit the Famous Ukulele Players page for more notable players.

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