The real king of Hawaiian music was actually a king! When Christian missionaries convinced Hawaiian royalty to leave their heathen ways and accept Christianity, they also convinced them that Hawaiian music and the hula should be made illegal. When David Kalakaua took the throne in 1874, things changed and the hula once again became a celebration of Hawaiian culture. For his coronation he issued invitations to all Hawaiians that had knowledge of the old chants & music to participate in this ceremony. During his reign, Portuguese immigrants introduced him to the ukulele and he embraced it and became proficient in playing it. He would even entertain visitors accompanied by his personal music group. Today he is remembered fondly as the Merrie Monarch & each year a hula festival by that name is held in Hilo Hawaii in April for the best hula halaus (schools) in the world.
Flash forward to 1969, possibly the most star filled Hawaiian band consisting of legends Palani Vaughan, Cyril & Bla Pahinui, the Cazimero brothers & the great Peter Moon recorded a tribute to King Kalakaua. David in Hawaiian is Kawika & this song is based on a 1930’s mele about how the king traveled to England & France to try to get financial aid for Hawaii. Sunday Manoa became so popular they are often credited with helping bring on a Hawaiian heritage cultural renaissance. Interest in Hawaiian language, music, cultural pride and a sovereignty movement grew out of this.