Nā Lani ʻEhā (The Royal Four; the Heavenly Four) are four siblings who, among other accomplishments, demonstrated extraordinary talent as musicians and composers. They were born to High Chief Caesar Kapaʻakea and High Chiefess Analeʻa Keohokālole.
They were King Kalākaua (1836-1891,) Queen Liliʻuokalani (1838-1917,) Princess Likelike (1851-1887) and Prince Leleiōhoku (1854-1877.)
In 1995, the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame recognized Nā Lani ʻEhā as “The Patrons of the Hawaiian Culture,” noting they “were not only giants in the field of Hawaiian music but form the very cornerstones of subsequent Hawaiian culture and arts, and as such, ‘preside’ over the greats of Hawaiian music honored” in the Hall of Fame.
David Kalākaua (1836-1891)
David Kalākaua was hānai (adopted) by the chiefess Haʻaheo Kaniu, who took him to Maui. When Kalākaua was four, he returned to Oʻahu to begin his education at the Royal School.
On February 12, 1874, nine days after the passing of King Lunalilo, an election was held between the repeat candidate David Kalākaua and Queen Emma – widow of King Kamehameha IV. Kalākaua won.
Lydia Liliʻu Kamakaʻeha Paki (1838-1917)
Lydia Liliʻu Kamakaʻeha was hānai to Abner Pākī and his wife Laura Kōnia, and grew up with their daughter, Princess Bernice Pauahi. In her youth she was called ‘Lydia’ or ‘Liliʻu.’
By age 15, Liliʻu was already an accomplished musician and composer who could write music. Her best-known song ‘Aloha ʻOe’ was the first Hawaiian “hit” song outside of the Islands.
On April 10, 1877, King Kalākaua named her heir apparent to the throne of Hawaiʻi and changed her name to Liliʻuokalani. King Kalākaua died on January 20, 1891; Liliʻuokalani succeeded him to the Hawaiian throne.
Miriam Likelike (1851-1887)
Unlike her brothers and sister, Princess Miriam Likelike was raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. It was after her return to Honolulu as a teenager that her musical endeavors began in earnest. With her sister, she led one of the three royal music clubs that held regular friendly competitions to outdo each other in song and poetry.
‘ʻĀinahau,’ the most famous of Likelike’s compositions, was written about their residence in Waikīkī. She wrote most of her compositions there.
On October 16, 1875, a child was born to Princess Likelike and Archibald Cleghorn. The child, the only direct descendant of the Kalākaua dynasty, was named Princess Kaʻiulani.
William Pitt Leleiōhoku (1854-1877)
The youngest of “The Royal Four”, Prince Leleiōhoku was said by his sister, Lili`uokalani to have a talent for composition “really in advance” of the two princesses. He founded the Kawaihau Singing Club and soon he and his colleagues were winning most of the royal song club competitions.
When his older brother became king, Kalākaua’s first act as King was to appoint Leleiōhoku, as successor to the throne, thereby restoring to the crown the function of selecting kings.
Leleiōhoku married Ruth Keʻelikōlani, great-granddaughter of Kamehameha, a grand-niece to Kamehameha II and III, and a half-sister of Kamehameha IV and V. They had two children, only one of whom – William Pitt Kīnaʻu – survived childhood (but he died at the age of 17.) While serving as governor of Hawai‘i Island, Leleiōhoku died, only twenty-two years old.
A recent program at the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives focused on compositions written by Nā Lani ʻEha, four royal siblings, King Kalākaua, Queen Liliʻuokalani, Princess Likelike and Prince Leleiōhoku.
Aaron Mahi, Kuʻuipo Kumukahi and Kaʻala Carmack first participated in a panel discussion about the four famous siblings.
In recognizing Nā Lani ʻEhā, the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame also called to attention their early music teacher, Juliette Montague Cooke of the Chiefs’ Children’s School.
Founded in 1839, O‘ahu’s first school was called the Chiefs’ Children’s School (The Royal School.) The cornerstone of the original school was laid on June 28, 1839 in the area of the old barracks of ʻIolani Palace (at about the site of the present State Capitol of Hawaiʻi.)
The school was created by King Kamehameha III, with the main goal of this school was to groom the next generation of the highest ranking chief’s children of the realm and secure their positions for Hawaii’s Kingdom.
Seven families were eligible under succession laws stated in the 1840 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i; Kamehameha III called on seven boys and seven girls to board in the Chief’s Children’s School.
For fourteen years, the Cookes lived with and taught the future kings and queens. Many of the children became boarders at very early ages; four of the students were under the age of four. (Liliʻuokalani was only three when she went to live with the Cookes.) (Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame)
Cooke was an excellent musician, and introduced them to the joy of singing. Since chanting had been the tradition in Hawaiian culture, a latent natural talent was released when the Hawaiians were introduced to the phenomena of melody and harmony. They embraced their music lessons with verve and enthusiasm; singing came to them naturally, and they loved their music lessons.
Cooke and her husband are buried in the Mission Cemetery behind the Kawaiahaʻo Church, and her tombstone has simply the word, “Mother”, because that was what the children at the school called her. (Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame)
The theme of this year’s Huakaʻi – A Musical Journey at Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives centers on the music of Nā Lani ʻEha; 6 – 10 pm, Saturday, September 13 (it is the major fundraising event for Mission Houses.)
The image shows Nā Lani ʻEhā (Kalākaua, Liliʻuokalani, Likelike and Leleiōhoku.) In addition, I have added others similar images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.