The Legacy of the 49th State Hawaii Record label

The time was the mid forties, the place was Honolulu, and the person was George Ching. He was a proprieter of a record store in Hawaii's main city and he had an idea. Because of the many requests he had gotten (largely from servicemen returning home to the mainland) for recordings of Hawaiian music as keepsakes and momentos, he knew that there was not a serious outlet for local talent. Seizing this opportunity, Ching decided to start his own modest recording service to provide such an outlet, and making sure that he dealt in the best of the local talent available he enlisted the help of perhaps the single most important musician of his time, John K. (Kameaaloha) Almeida. John K. would serve as musical director, arranger, and of course, as an important performer for the fledgling enterprise. Searching for a name for the new company, Ching came upon one that looked to the future of the islands. With the end of World War II, there had been much talk of Hawaii becoming part of the United States, ending its days as a U.S. territory. And so, owing to the impending status of Hawaii, the new record label proudly named itself "49th State Hawaii Records". (Of course we know that the change in status took much longer than expected, and Alaska beat Hawaii to the 49th designation - but the "49th State" label remained and has gained in historical significance from that time)

The recording company had modest beginnings, as to be expected, but as it grew and the technology expanded and advanced, so did Hawaii's hometown record label. They amassed quite a catalog throughout the years, featuring many musicians in their formative stages, who went on to great success (Gabby Pahinui and Genoa Keawe to name a couple of obvious examples). From the mid forties into the fifties and beyond, the breadth and scope of the little label that could is remarkable. Moving from the original 78 rpm shellacs to the 45 and LP formats, the label kept a stream of important musical performances available to the public. As late as 1980, 49th State had a numerous catalog of re-released material on 45 rpm records (cleverly beginning with #49 and numbering more than 300 releases issued) and a wealth of music was available on LPs. Into the new milennium, we find the mid and late 40s sounds still available as a new generation of listeners seek out these snippets of Hawaii's musical legacy. Cord International has preserved a number of these titles in all their re-mastered glory on a number of CDs. And so, more than a half century later, the music that was the nucleus of an idea of George Ching for his little "49th State Hawaii" record label resonates once again. Mahalo, George, and John K., and all the performers that we enjoy once again!

The 49th State LP series 3400 releases - (all by various artists)

3401 - Let's Dance The Hawaiian Hula

3402 - On The Beach At Waikiki

3403 - I'll See You In Hawaii

3404 - Hawaii Across The Sea

3405 - Enchanting Hawaiian Holiday (instrumental)

3406 - Surf 'n Sand Under Hawaiian Skies (instrumental)

3407 - Hawaii Weaves A Lei Of Dreams

3408 - Hawaii Dances Just For You

3409 - Songs To Remember Hana - Maui

3410 - My Waikiki Girl

3411 - It's Always Springtime In Hawaii (instrumental)

3412 - Driftin' & Dreamin' In Hawaii (instrumental)

3413 - Rhythm Of The Islands

3414 - Romantic Hawaii

3415 - Hawaiian Hospitality

3416 - My Lovely Hawaiian Maid

3417 - Polynesian Love Song

3418 - On A Coconut Island

3419 - Memories From Maoriland In The South Pacific

3420 - Hawaiian Keikis Dance The Hula

3421 - Santa's Gone Hawaiian

3422 - Tahiti Dances To Drums Of Bora Bora

3423 - Strum Your Ukulele (instrumental)

3424 - Among My Hawaiian Souvenirs

3425 - Come & Play In Hawaii

3426 - Little Brown Gal

3427 - Aloha Oe, Hawaii

3428 - Carefree Days In Blue Hawaii

3429 - An Evening In Paradise

At this point 49th State released ten LPs of Japanese music (3450 - 3459), 3460 "Far East Today" by Priscilla Lee & The Filipino Rockets, 3461 featured the music of Singapore, and the curiosity (and for Americans, bitter-sweet) #3462 - "This Is Saigon" which features "Kansas City" by Tran Kim Ani, and "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" by Thuy Nhien.

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