Herb Ohta, Jr. Appreciation of History
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Ernest Kaai
(1881-1962)
“Hawai‘i’s greatest ‘ukulele player.”
 -Johnny Noble (Hawaiian composer)


 Ernest Kaai was the first ‘ukulele virtuoso from Hawai‘i.  Ernest was a talented musician.  He also played the mandolin, violin, steel guitar, and guitar.  He was also a songwriter, music arranger, vocalist, and a music teacher as well.  Though talented musically, he is best known as a ‘ukulele player, composer, entertainer, and publisher. 



Because of his talented abilities, he is known for turning the ‘ukulele into a featured instrument of the Hawaiian Orchestra.  He organized Ensembles and also ran the Kaai ‘Ukulele Manufacturing Company.

Kaai is also credited for writing and publishing the very first ‘ukulele instructional book: “The ‘Ukulele, A Hawaiian Guitar” in 1916.  This book introduced the ‘ukulele as a sophisticated musical instrument.

Ernest Kaai was the foremost ‘ukulele king of his time.  As an entertainer, songwriter, he captivated people all over the world.  As a ‘ukulele virtuoso, his sophisticated strumming techniques and finger picking showcased his musical ability and also showcased the ‘ukulele as a solo instrument.  He was truly the first ‘ukulele ambassador of Hawai’i. 

Note:  Photos was taken from the book:
 Hawaiian ‘Ukulele, The Early Methods, The Collection of Popular Early Hawaiian ‘Ukulele Methods
©1998 Centerbrook Publishing

Profile was written by Herb Ohta, Jr