10 Fun Facts About the Ukulele!

10 Facts About the Ukulele

 

Ukuleles bring out the silliness in people. Maybe its because they are so cute and small. Or, maybe its because they produce a sweet and gleeful sound. Either way, you can’t help but smile while strumming away at your favorite song. You know what else brings out the silliness in people? Fun facts!  

The ukulele has a short but quite interesting history. We researched that history and identified a few fun facts we thought you’d like. Here are 10 of our favorite facts about the ukulele.


10 Fun Facts About the Ukulele

1. The ukulele was born in Hawaii.

2. Ukulele closely translates to the Hawaiian word for “jumping flea”.

3. The Ukulele was a fixture at Hawaiian royal gatherings.

4. The first ukulele craze happened in 1915.

5. The correct pronunciation of ukulele is “oo-koo-lay-lay”…not ”you-ka-lay-lee”

6. The Great Depression brought an even greater wave of ukulele popularity.

7. Elvis Presley played the ukulele in his biggest hit movie, Blue Hawaii.

8. Late ukulele star Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was the first Hawaiian to achieve platinum status for an album.

9. One of the first YouTube videos to go viral (ever!) featured the ukulele.

10. George Harrison believed that anybody who played the ukulele was “crackers”!


 

Picture depicts sunset over a Hawaiian beach.

1.The ukulele was born in Hawaii.

The earliest known record of the ukulele is from the1880’s. It was created by Portuguese immigrants and modeled after the machete, a Portuguese 4-stringed instrument.

2.Ukulele closely translates to the Hawaiian word for “jumping flea”.

Legend has it that it was so named because Hawaiians thought the movements of the early Portuguese ukulele player’s fingers resembled that of a flea!
 

3.The Ukulele was a fixture at Hawaiian royal gatherings.

Beloved Hawaiian King Kalākaua (1836-1891) was an ardent supporter of the arts and the ukulele in particular. The Merry King’s  support helped it gain popularity across the Hawaiian Islands.

 

A ukulele is seated on a chair. 10 Fun Facts About the Ukulele

 

4.The first ukulele craze happened in 1915.

Luthier Jonas Kumulae brought his hand-crafted ukuleles to mainland United States for the Pan-Pacific International Exhibition in 1915. They were an instant sensation!

5.The correct pronunciation of ukulele is “oo-koo-lay-lay”…not ”you-ka-lay-lee”.

Now you can sound like a local on your next trip to the Hawaiian Islands!

6.The Great Depression brought an even greater wave of ukulele popularity.

During the Great Depression, instruments like the piano, violin, and accordion were costly for many music lovers. The ukulele only cost a couple of dollars at the time and was a low-cost option for struggling families that wanted a musical instrument in their homes.

 

Elvis Presley is on his toes while dancing.

7. Elvis Presley played the ukulele in his biggest hit movie, Blue Hawaii.

In 1961, Elvis starred in the movie Blue Hawaii. The movie soundtrack,which featured the ukulele, was number one on the Billboard charts for 20 weeks.

A rainbow forms over a plain.

 

8.Late ukulele star Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was the first Hawaiian to achieve platinum status for an album.

His medley,“Somewhere Over the Rainbow/ What a Wonderful World”, was featured in movies including “50 First Dates” and “Meet Joe Black” and television shows such as “ER” and “Scrubs”.

 

 

9.One of the first YouTube videos to go viral (ever!) featured the ukulele.

Jake Shimabukuro’s widely acclaimed performance of The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps has been viewed over 16 million times!

10.George Harrison believed that anybody who played the ukulele was “crackers”!

The late Beatle was a huge ukulele aficionado and said “everyone should have and play a ‘UKE’…it is one instrument you can’t play and not laugh!”

 

These 10 fun facts are only the tip of the iceberg. Want more ukulele silliness? Be sure to subscribe to our blog.  

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