Our Ukulele Ohana

In the Hawaiian language, ohana means family. In the Hawaiian culture, ohana comes first.

Three members of our own St. Margaret’s ohana will be appearing at the McCallum Theatre later this week during the Open Call Finals performances. Kay Wood, Karla Lewis and Barbara Stevens are members of the “Rainbow Group,” a nineteen-member ensemble that is part of the larger Desert Ukulele Marching Band.

The “Rainbow Group” has been working together for approximately two years to get onto the McCallum stage. This year was the second time that they auditioned for Open Call. As Barbara explained, “The process is to send in a tape in December, and if you make it past that screening, you get a live audition in January. We got that far last year, but we didn’t make it past the live audition, so we started the whole process over again this year, and we were selected.”

For those who may not know, ukuleles come in a variety of sizes. Karla plays a tenor ukulele, while Kay and Barbara each play a concert ukulele. Other members of the group play those same ukuleles, as well as soprano ukuleles. They will be performing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World,” the version made famous by IZ, the late Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole, at each performance, and they will also be part of the closing act each night.

When asked what they enjoyed most about this experience, Kay said, “Growing together, not only as a ukulele group but as individuals.” Karla said, “I think it has been the opportunity to learn something new and to develop it. We’ve been playing and singing the same song for two years, but every time we do it, we’re tweaking something a little bit different so it stays fresh.” Barbara added, “I think it was being backstage at the McCallum, being in the green room and then going out on the stage and having the lights on you and looking out at the theater. I hadn’t done that before.”

Kay’s final thoughts about Open Call? “We’re in it to win it!”

Performances will be:
Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m.
Friday, April 19, at 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 20, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.mccallumtheatre.com/ and are also available at the McCallum Theatre box office.

Author’s Note: On a recent cruise to Hawaii, I had the opportunity to take ukulele lessons as we cruised to and from the islands. I bought a concert ukulele while I was in Honolulu, and Kay, Karla and Barbara have encouraged me to join their Tuesday ukulele group. They tell me it’s a great way for a beginner to learn!

About Jim Duke 146 Articles
Jim Duke is the Public Information Volunteer for St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Palm Desert. In this role, he is Editor-in-Chief of St. Margaret's News, Podcast Creator and Host of "St. Margaret's in a Minute," coordinator for local media relations and assists with the management of St. Margaret's social media accounts.