HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Willie K. is a Hawaii entertainer who has won awards for his music excellence.
He has played from intimate crowds on his home island of Maui to sold-out stadium crowds in Europe and around the world, so playing at the Aloha Stadium for University of Hawaii football is not unusual (Willie K. got a standing ovation first time he played the Hula Bowl back in the 1990s.).
Just before the UH - Nevada game this past weekend, he sang the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Hawaii Ponoi.” He also caught the eyes and ears of many online.
It wasn’t the usual “tune” of the national anthem that you might be used to hearing — Willie said that as game day approached, he was concerned about football players taking a knee.
Willie K. was told that the players would be in the locker room and not on the field during the national anthem as is customary during Hawaii games (Players have not been on the field for the national anthem and Hawaii Ponoi this year).
Willie K. says he understands the protest that he has seen with the NFL, but says while there is racial profiling on the mainland with police officers, he mentions, “We just don’t have that here.” So he wanted to show some respect to local officers here in Hawaii.
“That’s why I changed it a little bit because they wanna see some change, and I took it from some piece of song that I wrote called ‘Mountain of Gold,’ originally written for the soldiers for the Armed Forces of the U.S.,” Willie K. said.
He also went on to say, “And after that, I said like, ‘I go try 'em with this and see if this going work.’”
Headlines in newspapers and online publications said "Hawaiian Singer Willie K. Stuns Crowd With Stirring National Anthem Makeover."
Kansas City Star said, "Willie K. Stuns with a 'Ukelele..."
Yes, "'ukulele" was misspelled.
The video has gone viral with over 2 million hits.
Hawaii News Now recently obtained new video of Willie K singing the national anthem and “Hawaii Ponoi.”