Lena Machado was known as "Hawai`i's Songbird". She was a composer, entertainer and an acclaimed singer whose Hawaiian-style soprano-falsetto performances moved her to dominance in the 1930s and 1940s, often referred to as "the Golden Age" of Hawaiian music.
Her remarkable singing style was discovered by a radio broadcaster, who according to the story, heard Lena singing from the top of the mango tree at the Y.W.C.A on Richards Street, and offered her a singing audition. Despite early mic fright, she was an immediate sensation.
Over the next 50 years of her singing career, Lena became one of the best-known personalities in the Hawaiian music world. She was a soloist with the Royal Hawaiian Band for many years, and performed in all the major cities of the United States, Asia and the Pacific. She is much remembered for her singing of "Song of the Islands" and "Aloha 'Oe" at Aloha Tower on Steamer Days.
During WWII, Lena's radio show was beamed around the world to American troops, and she traveled to many military bases to entertain. In addition to recording on several major record labels, Lena was asked to head the Hawai`i Pavilion at the San Francisco World's Fair in 1939 and 1940, and was voted the most popular entertainer at the Fair.
Lena's singing trademark, carried on today by many well-known singers of Lena's songs, was a vocal leap done with a break in the voice. Many of her own compositions such as "E Ku`u Baby", "Holo Wa`apa", "Ei Nei," were tailor-made for her unique vocal style which included holding a note until the audience was sure she was out of breath, and then singing the last phrase without breathing.
Characteristic of her aloha spirit, Machado devoted time in her later years to teaching Hawaiian songs and hula. Her legacy is the "Haku Mele Award", a scholarship given to a Kamehameha Schools senior who excels in composition.
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