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.
The Ukulele Time-line
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.
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.
Ukuleles all the rage. This corresponds to the popularity and availability of radio in the decade of the 20s to 40s.
1940sUkulele craze revived by GIs returning home from South Pacific after World War II.
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.
The third wave of the ukulele corresponding the the influence of YouTube and the Internet.
Check out all the famous people and musicians associated with the ukulele on the ukulele musicians page.
Ukulele virtuoso and master educator James Hill has a great take on how the three ukulele crazes have spread — They ALL corresponded to the adoption of new vehicle for the delivery of mass media. He has a great point that Radio, TV and the Internet all created a sense of community around 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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