If you’re a proud American, you’re undoubtedly familiar with our national anthem. It’s set to a soaring, sweeping melody that stirs deep feelings of patriotic pride.
If you’re a football fan, you’ve probably heard numerous versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It’s been performed by gap-toothed grade-schoolers, Grammy-winning celebrities, and practically everyone in between.
The robust versatility of this song is one of its most powerful assets. And every so often, you encounter a rendition that lifts your heart to a whole new level.
There’s a beloved Hawaiian performer known as Willie K, and he understands this firsthand. In fact, he recently stunned the crowd at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium with a quietly powerful interpretation that was promptly posted to Twitter.
I can assure you you have never seen the Star-Spangled Banner performed like this before. pic.twitter.com/Rc8eO9uPid
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) October 21, 2018
According to Willie K’s website, he was born William Awihilima Kahaiali’I in Lahaina, Maui. His Hawaiian heritage is long and dignified.
Earlier this year, Willie K was diagnosed with lung cancer. But nevertheless, he found the fortitude to stand before the mic as the University of Hawaii took on the University of Nevada, Reno.
Consider, for a moment, a few intriguing parallels. The History Channel notes that Francis Scott Key penned his original poem back in 1814. At the time, he was anxiously witnessing a sustained British onslaught against Maryland’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.
Key’s resilient verses were later set to music. In 1931, the resulting tune became America’s national anthem as we know it today.
Flash forward a few years, to 1941. The History Channel observes that at this point, Hawaii was still a formal U.S. territory — not yet a state.
But then came Japan’s staggering surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. From that point onward, Hawaii was firmly and forever interwoven into America’s national identity.
The History Channel goes on to explain that Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state in 1959. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the official proclamation that graced our flag with one more shining star.
Hawaii’s historic customs are now a treasured part of American culture. Such traditions definitely include the softly lilting strains from a well-played ukulele.
Despite his ailment, Willie K did not disappoint as he honored our great nation. Countless tweets and social media shout-outs are applauding his intricate, haunting delivery.
Willie K’s website notes that all across the Hawaiian islands, he’s known with tremendous affection as “Uncle Willie.” As the Honolulu Pulse once proclaimed, “Willie K can play or sing almost anything an American audience might ask for.”
Clearly, that includes the song that inspires and unites our national spirit from sea to shining sea.
Speaking about his versatile approach to music, Willie K has said, “You want to taste it, you want to try it, and give it a shot and see what will happen.”
Viewers everywhere seem to agree that what happened at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium was pure, patriotic magic.
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