We’ve updated our Terms of Use to reflect our new entity name and address. You can review the changes here.
We’ve updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

Yellow Ginger: Hawaiian Recordings ca. 1948​-​58

by Canary Records



With the exception of the first track, these recordings were made for George K. Ching’s 49th State label at a converted military building under the supervision of the blind musician John K. Almeida (b. Pauoa Valley, O’ahu Nov. 28, 1897; d. Oct 9, 1985, Honolulu), who performs on many of them. The label issued dozens of performances a week for most of a decade, drawing from Honolulu’s talent pool and in a relentless search for catchy hits that would appeal to a variety of markets including tourists who, at any given time, made up a significant part of the population of only 200, 000 people of the city. Through their efforts, as in Kingston, Jamaica decades later, the productivity on disc recordings far outweighed the number of musicians. Even as the U.S. represented Hawaiian culture through the 20th century, these recordings, often made with a non-native audience in mind, are native Hawaiians representing themselves in that moment. Archiving activities of the material are increasing, but much of the material still doesn’t circulate. Much of what is available online is through the efforts of the broadcaster Harry B. Soria Jr. (b. 1948; d. Dec. 7, 2021).

This particular group of material is derived from 45rpm discs issued around 1957-58 from material recorded over the previous decade. In addition to the work of John Almeida about whom we have written in the previous Canary album Fish & Poi canary-records.bandcamp.com/album/fish-poi-hawaiian-independent-78rpm-discs-ca-1945-56 , they include several of the most significant figures of 20th century Hawaiian music-and-dance culture:

EMMA KAHELELANI BISHOP (b. April 5, 1895; d. April 12, 1969)
Mrs Bishop opened a hula and language school in Honolulu in 1925. Her troupe performed during the 1930s and was a fixture at events for several decades.

GENOA KEAWE (b O’ahu Oct. 31, 1918; d. Feb. 25, 2008)
The celebrated singer Genoa Leilani Keawe was raised on Kuaai and Oahu. She'd begun performing professionally in Honolulu by 1937 while working several other jobs. In the late ’40s, she began collaborating professionally with John. K. Almeida, recorded and performed for five decades, and become one of the most celebrated Hawaiian singers of her generation. She was given an honorary doctorate from the University of Hawaii in 2005 for her contributions to the literature of the Hawaiian language.

GEORGE L. NA’OPE (b. Honolulu Feb 25, 1928; d. Oct. 28, 2009)
George Naope was raised in Hilo where began studying hula at the age of four with several masters. He began performing as both a singer and a dancer as an adolescent and was highly regarded by the time he graduated high school. He began teaching at the age of 13 and had, by the age of 19 opened his own dance school in Hilo. In his early 20s, he toured North America with the Ray Kinney band, and by the time he was 30 years old, he was exceptionally knowledgeable about the lineages and variants of old Hawaiian dances. (He was also among the earliest collectors of Hawaiian shirts, owning more than 250 of them by 1948.) The antique mele material that he recorded in the late 1940s is among the first commercial presentations of traditional Hawaiian songs on recordings. Devoted to the mid-19th century Hawaiian era of artists under King Kalakaua, Na’ope became an influential figure in music and dance in the middle of the 20th century, given numerous honors, and fondly remembered by his students.

JULIA NUI (b. ca. 1902)
The Chinese wife of a bookkeeper at a music store (Bobby), Julia Nui was already the mother of two when she began performing in the late ‘20s. She remarried in 1942 to Archie Haopii, who worked at a boy’s school and was a direct descendent of King Kamehamameha (b. ca. 1736; d. 1891), at a Catholic ceremony by which time she was already well-known as a performer.

Flora Waipa was a mother by 1936 and a performer by 1938. She certainly began recording by 1937 and performed in Honolulu into the early 1950s.


released June 17, 2023

Credited composers:
1. Sam K. Noele
5. Mary K. Pukui; Madeline K. Lam
6. Madeline K. Lam
7. Irmgard F. Aluli
8. Jennie Wood
10. Lena Machado
11. Kalakua; Alohikea
13. Helen K. Parker
17. Alfred Alhokiea
18, 21, 23, 24. John K. Almeida
19. Charles E. King; John Kaulia
22. John Keaweawaii

Transfers, restorations, and notes by Ian Nagoski

All recordings made in Honolulu. They are presented here in approximately reverse chronological order of their initial release.

Further listening:
Many hours of Harry B. Soria Jr.'s beautifully researched and presented radio shows of 1915-59 Hawaiian music are archived here:

cover photo: George Naope ca. 1953
Many thanks to Gene Baron


all rights reserved



Canary Records Baltimore, Maryland

early 20th century masterpieces (mostly) in languages other than English.

An hour in clamor and a quarter in rheum.

contact / help

Contact Canary Records

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Report this album or account

Canary Records recommends:

If you like Canary Records, you may also like: