“Detroit, Michigan … For the first time in the history of this city the general public was given an opportunity last night to dance to the weird, fascinating and charming music of far-off Hawaii, rendered by Hawaiian Quintet at Arcadia auditorium.”
“Music lovers of this city from time to time have heard Hawaiian music on the vaudeville stage. On rare occasions the Ford management has allowed this quintet to sing and play for dancing at exclusive society functions.”
“To the Arcadia management belongs the credit of giving the first public dance with this novel band attractive form of music and that it filled a popular demand was evidenced by the fact that Arcadia was crammed to capacity …”
“… in fact, at 9:15 o’clock the police and fire authorities stopped the further sale of tickets. Box office figures show that the attendance totaled 5,316 persons and many hundreds were turned away. At various times during the evening it was estimated that there were 1300 couples on the floor at one time.”
“In addition to the popular music, which was rendered during the evening, Detroit was given an opportunity to hear real Hawaiian folk songs rendered in a manner far different from that attempted on the vaudeville stage.”
“That popular ballad, ‘Aloha Oe,’ was rendered in the native tongue and sung with all its native charm and melody. This number and ‘On the Beach at Waikiki’ were easily the big hits of the evening’s entertainment.”
“’Ford’s Hawaiians,’ as they are styled, were brought to Detroit last year by Henry Ford after he had heard them in the Hawaiian building at the Panama-Pacific exposition.” (Star Bulletin, October 24, 1916)
Hawaiian Quintette – Aloha Oe
On the Beach at Waikiki:
For nine months in 1915, the San Francisco Presidio’s bayfront and much of today’s Marina District was the site of a grand celebration of human spirit and ingenuity – hosted to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, as well as help San Francisco by bringing folks to the area as San Francisco was recovering from the 1906 earthquake.
At the turn of the 20th Century, San Francisco was the largest and wealthiest city on the west coast of the United States. In 1906, a disastrous earthquake struck San Francisco. The ensuing fire was more devastating than the Chicago fire of 1871.
Less than 10 years after most of San Francisco was destroyed, the proud city was rebuilt and its people were ready to hold a party, one designed to dazzle the world and showcase the new city.
Over 18-million people visited the fair; strolling down wide boulevards, attending scientific and educational presentations, “travelling” to international pavilions and enjoying thrilling displays of sports, racing, music and art. The fair promoted technological and motor advancements.
The Panama-Pacific International Exposition looked to the future for innovation. Things we take for granted today – cars, airplanes, telephones, and movies – were in their infancy and were shown off at the fair, and some well-known technological luminaries were involved in the fair.
Henry Ford, who brought mass production to American manufacturing and made the automobile affordable to middle class society, built an actual Model T assembly line at the fair. Fords were produced three hours a day, six days a week. (NPS)
One of the most popular attractions at the Exposition was a daily show at the Hawaiian Pavilion featuring Hawaiian musicians and hula dancers. It’s where millions of people heard the ‘ukulele for the first time.
These Hawaiian shows had the highest attendance at the entire fair and launched a Hawaiian cultural craze that influenced everything from American music, to movies, to fashion. (Mushet)
“The hugely popular Hawaii pavilion … showcased Hawaiian music and hula dancing, and was the unofficial launching pad for ukulele-mania.” Hapa-haole songs were featured in the Hawaii exhibits.
“Henry Kailimai, the leader of the quaint band of singers, is a song writer of note, having written and composed several song hits during the past year which are ranked high among the “best sellers.” The balance of the quintet are: William Lincoln, Robert Waialeale. Gordon Piania and Frank Kema.”
Henry Ford visited the Exposition, and was so impressed with the band’s music that he hired the quintet to come to Detroit and play at Ford company events. They were renamed the Ford Hawaiian Quintet and recorded a number of records for the company of Henry Ford’s good friend, Thomas Edison. (Ukulele Hall of Fame)
“The Ford Hawaiians, whose unique music seems essentially the complement of warm weather, opened and concluded the program, in addition to playing a number of selections during the course of the entertainment.”
“There was the usual variety and charm that is peculiar to Hawaiian music – now a full orchestra of the Hawaiian instruments, now a solo by one of those instruments, then a song, first as solo, then gradually swelling with the full force of the chorus.” (Ford News, May 23, 1923)
“Perhaps no music is more appreciated on these warm summer evenings than that of the Hawaiians. On the evening of August 1, the Ford Hawaiians gave much enjoyment to the WWI (Ford’s AM radio station) listeners-in by their delightful music, both vocal and instrumental.”
“As usual, this music was of widely varied character, and the spirit with which it was rendered accentuated its charm.” (Ford News, August 22, 1923)
“Henry Ford takes a personal interest in his singers from the Paradise of the Pacific and has furnished an elaborate studio for them downtown where the ‘boys’ are allowed the privilege of giving ukulele lessons to large numbers of Detroiters who have become fascinated with this new music.”
“Although this quintet devotes most of its time to Mr Ford’s personal entertainment at his palatial home in Dearborn, Mich., they are taken from time to time to various large cities in the Middle West to give public concerts under the Ford sales management.” (Star Bulletin, October 24, 1916)
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Al Clarke says
The William Lincoln (1887-1959) listed as a band member was the son of contractor Walter Lincoln who arrived in Hawaii in 1876. Walter was the second known Lincoln to establish a family in Hawaii and at one time was the owner of the Lincoln block on S King St.
Leslie Nelson says
I am one of the great grandchildren of Henry K. Kailimai. I have followed in my great grand fathers footsteps and am proud to be a relative of one of such a legacy. I also have a daughter and cousins that are entertainers. Any interested parties or long lost relatives please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-506-5800.