He Mele Aloha: A Hawaiian Songbook is a collection of over 260 songs, listed alphabetically, about 40 of which are hapa-haole songs. It is intended to encourage the tradition of kanikapila. The emphasis is on accurate Hawaiian lyrics and translation. Simple chording and fingering for the 'ukulele is shown for each song. The lyrics are large for easy reading and published in a workbook format with large print and room to make notes.
Kanikapila: The word kanikapila, literally "play music," has come to mean gathering together informally to sing and play. It was not so long ago that kanikapila was part of our daily lives in Hawai'i. Over the last generation, music has moved from the garage party to the concert stage. It has become something to listen to rather than participate in. There is a sense today that singing is reserved for those who are really "good" at it. Still, many people yearn to kanikapila.
Translations: English translations favor a less than literal approach, as the translator tried to capture not only the specifics of the language but the essence of the song. Existing translations were edited in order to provide a level of consistency, and were sometimes adjusted to reflect more recent understandings of the poetry. When translations were not available, they have been written anew.
Melody and phrasing is not provided-you must know the song to sing it. Most of these songs have been recorded, and one purpose of this book is to encourage support of Hawai'i's composers and entertainers. Profits from sales go to Lunalilo Home