Posts Tagged ‘Darby and Tarlton’

Little Ola/ Aloha Oe

March 1, 2012

Queen Lili`uokalani

edited from

 Tom Darby and Jimmy Tarlton‘s classic 1930 recording of  “Little Ola” contains as an introduction and instrumental break the plaintive Hawaiian song “Aloha Oe.”  According to one legend, “Aloha Oe” was composed by Queen Lili`uokalani of Hawaii around 1895 while she was imprisoned in her own country.  Her monarchy had been overthrown by plantation owners with the cooperation of the U.S. government.

Queen Lili`uokalani had been determined to strengthen the political power of the Hawaiian monarchy and to limit suffrage to subjects of the kingdom.  Her attempt to promulgate a new constitution galvanized opposition from naturalized citizens and foreign nationals, many of whom were sugar plantation owners and businessmen. This group, with the support of the American Minister to Hawai`i, orchestrated the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and the establishment of a provisional government.

In 1895, an abortive attempt by Hawaiian royalists to restore Queen Lili`uokalani to power resulted in the queen’s arrest. Convicted of having knowledge of a royalist plot, Lili`uokalani was fined $5000 and sentenced to five years in prison at hard labor. The sentence was commuted to imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom of `Iolani Palace.

During her imprisonment, the queen was denied any visitors other than one lady in waiting.  Legend has it that the queen composed “Aloha Oe” for her people during this time.

In 1993, 100 years after the overthrow, President Clinton signed a Congressional resolution  in which the United States government formally apologized to the Native Hawaiian people.

Darby and Tarlton play “Little Ola.”

Recorded April 16, 1930, Atlanta, GA