Back to List
1998 Hall of Fame Honoree

Bina Mossman

(1893-1990)

Bina Mossman was born in an era when song fests and glee clubs were still inspired and encouraged by Hawaiian royalty. It was Bina who, at age 21, organized the first all- Hawaiian girls glee club and had the good fortune to have her talented group tutored in music by the then-deposed Queen, Lili`uokalani.

Hearing "Bina Mossman's Glee Club" rehearsing one day, the Queen stopped her carriage and offered Bina suggestions on how the group might improve. After that, Lili`uokalani invited them to rehearse at her home, Washington Place, where she trained the young girls in correct Hawaiian pronunciation and introduced them to many of the old Hawaiian songs. Bina's Glee Club continued for 28 years, singing for such notables as then-governor Farrington, the Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden, and U.S. President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Bina's glee club disbanded during World War II. Politics, in which she had been active since her twenties, became a full time vocation. Bina Mossman was one of the first women in Hawai`i to serve in the Territorial Legislature. Throughout this period she continued to integrate her Hawaiian music with her political career, never leaving her music for long.

Of her many compositions, the hula "Hele au I Kaleponii" tells of a young man going to California (Kaleponi) who asks his girlfriend what to bring back for her. She responds with a list of stylish clothing. Bina's songs "He ono" (Delicious [fish]) and "Niu Haohao" (Young Coconuts) demonstrate the Hawaiian use of kaona - hidden meaning - veiled references to the pleasures of a particular human form or activity. Among other still-popular tunes which Bina wrote are "Kapu U`i", "Lae Lae", "Ku`u Lei", and "Stevedore Hula". Her songs were traditional - simple, gay and with Hawaiian lyrics.

Bina Mossman's passion for music and its presentation continued after WWII. She formed the Ka`ahumanu Choral Group, made up of mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers. With them she toured the world, picking up fabrics along the way for the holokus she designed and wore. Growing up in the transitional era from Monarchy to Territorial government, Bina was a Renaissance Woman. While noted for her political accomplishments, it is through her music that she continues to be remembered.