Happy birthday ukulele

25th August 2023
By Peter Grace

Did you know that this week is the birthday of the ukulele?

On 23 August 1879, the clipper ship Ravenscrag arrived in Honolulu after 123 gruelling days at sea. Aboard were 427 men, women, and children from Madeira (an island group off Portugal) in search of work and opportunity.

Rejoicing in their safe arrival, a passenger named João Fernandes burst into song, strumming a small, guitar-like machete (“mah-shette”). It was the first time such a sound had been heard in Hawaii, and it inspired the birth of the ukulele which, by the late 1880s, was considered the national instrument of Hawaii.

Little did the passengers of the Ravenscrag know that, for generations in their wake, the “jumping flea” would bring joy to countless people around the world.

<< Previous | Next >>