Helen H. Roberts, ethnomusicologist, collecting mele from across the islands, 1923.


In this past Legislative session, $5,000 was set aside for the cost to prepare a book of “Ancient Hawaiian Music”. This endeavor has been given to Kamehameha School, and they are now utilizing this to preserve the “old mele olioli” of Hawaii nei. Miss Helen H. Roberts has been sent by the Trustees of the Kamehameha School to go amongst the Hawaiians and to search out ancient mele of Hawaii nei.

She is accompanied by a phonograph [ponotalapa (ipu malama olelo)], and is looking to have people chant ancient mele into the phonograph and to record and save it for generations to come. Not only mele olioli are being sought after, but also wanted are mele hula hoaeae of the Hawaiians. Many years from now the people who know these old mele will be gone, but these mele olioli and mele hoaeae will become something to look back to the history of the Hawaiian Lahui.

This will be something that will look for where the Hawaiians came from, whereas also being sought are mele of other Polynesians while comparing these ancient mele with the ancient mele of Hawaii.

This is something that the old people who are fluent for instance in the old mele hoaeae of Hawaii nei should assist in.

This is not being done for monetary profit, but to seek the ancient things of the beloved Kupuna of this Lahui; and for all Hawaiians who have pride in the fame of their Lahui, there is no reason for them to withhold these ancient things of the Kupuna and to go to the grave without leaving these blessings for those coming after them. We ask Rev. W. M. Kalaiwaa and Rev. William Kamau of the Kohala districts to support this great endeavor for the acclaim of the Hawaiian Lahui. We are also helping to move this project along with what little we have, being that this will help to perpetuate the great Moolelo of the Hawaiian People.

[The opening to the book “Ancient Hawaiian Music” reads:

A survey of ancient Hawaiian music was conducted, 1923–24, by Miss Helen H. Roberts under the auspices of the Hawaiian Folk-Lore Commission represented by John R. Galt, chairman; Edna J. Hill, secretary; Mrs. Emma Ahuena Taylor, Hawaiian member. In cooperation with the Commission, manuscripts resulting from the survey are published by Bernice P. Bishop Museum.]

(Hoku o Hawaii, 12/6/1923, p. 2)


Ka Hoku o Hawaii, Buke XVII, Helu 28, Aoao 2. Dekemaba 6, 1923.

The latest from Kalawao, 1909.

News From the Land of the Suffering.

To the Editor of the Aloha Aina Newspaper, Aloha:

Please allow my small parcel a space in your newspaper which is greatly enjoyed, and that is what is down below; let the paper take it proudly around so that our multitudes of friends may see.

Movies come regularly every Wednesday, and are shown on the evenings of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; and every Saturday in Honolulu. There has been a building erected for the patients to watch the movies. The patients are thrilled. They donated money to buy a first-class phonograph [pahu olelo]. They are very happy with singing, the sweet sound of the strings and the blare of the brass instruments.

There was an announcement made to the ones without the sickness or those partially afflicted that wanted to be examined by the Doctors who are coming into the settlement.

Some went to sign up, and some just looked on because they did not want to go back to where they came from, being there might be difficulties waiting ahead for them. And because of the small number of those going to sign up, the Superintendent of the settlement ordered someone to go to the houses to sign people up; the total of those people number 58, but I don’t have their names; the only names I have are those who went to sign up, and they number 55, along with their doctor.


[Names difficult to make out.]


The Men

[Names difficult to make out.]

The Women

[Names difficult to make out.]

The total number told to the writer is 108. This includes the people chosen by the Legislature [?]

With much aloha for my Lahui.



Kalawao, Molokai, Aug. 2, 1909

[Here is just another example of why the original newspapers need to be reshot clearly before the acid in the paper consumes all of the words, leaving us with crumbs…]

(Aloha Aina, 9/4/1909, p. 3)

Na Mea Hou o ke Kahua Ma'i.

Ke Aloha Aina, Buke XIV, Helu 36, Aoao 3. Sepatemaba 4, 1909.

More on “Prince,” 1924.

The Songs of “Prince” Lei Lani Were Just Beautiful

His Falsetto Voice Was Heard at the Concerts He Gave in the Liberty Theater Last Week.

The concerts given by E. K. Rose, known by the stage name “Prince” Lei Lani [Leilani], in the Liberty Theater on the nights of Friday and Saturday, and the afternoon of Saturday of this past week, those were some of the most beautiful concerts, filling all those who attended with delight at hearing in person, the singing voice of this musician of Hawaii nei.

Amongst all of the people who attended to hear his concerts, they said but one thing; that being of their appreciation and desire, not just for all of the different mele sung, but for the loveliness and beauty of his voice, showing that within him are the high talents for which all Hawaiians have pride in him.

For the first time, Honolulu’s people heard singing live along with a phonograph [pahuolelo], auwe, if people weren’t clear about who the singer was on the phonograph, this lack of clarity was put to an end by them hearing the real “Prince” Lei Lani’s voice, being that they were the same in every way.

While the phonograph was playing a song called “Pua Sadinia,” “Prince” Lei Lani sang it in Alto, and it sounded beautiful. “Aloha Oe” was another number played on the phonograph while he sang in alto.

The local singers pale in haole songs, and cannot match the high range of his voice along with the modulation, and yodeling; there is no match, like the voice of a bird.

There was one unfortunate thing in the concert, that was that it was not filled, for there are not many concerts of this sort put on here in Honolulu that are as beautiful.

“Prince” Lei Lani will spend a number of months here in Hawaii nei before turning back to return to America to sing, and while he is here, he will be giving many concerts. He’ll be going to Kauai to perform concerts there, and Kauai’s people are planning a reception for him with excitement.

Other than to sing, he is returning to America, taking with him many photographs of all sorts of places here in Hawaii nei, scenes showing the people of America that Hawaii is a lovely place full of intelligence; not as was shown by some people using ridiculing pictures, saying that Hawaii is in the dark of pagan times.

[I wonder where the pictures ridiculing Hawaii were printed, and who it was that did it.

The internet is pretty amazing. Some ninety years later, we can hear Prince Lei Lani singing “Pua Sadinia” and “Aloha Oe”! Mahalo to cdbpdx for putting it up on youtube!!]

(Kuokoa, 4/10/1924, p. 1)

Nui Ka Nani o Na Mele A Ka "Prince" Lei Lani

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, Buke LXIII, Helu 15, Aoao 1. Aperila 10, 1924.