One of Hawaii's great composer/performers, Andrew Kealoha Cummings was born in Honolulu and
attended school on Maui and Kauai. He learned the ukulele early, and the violin and trumpet in high school, but
he was known for grabbing his guitar and singing at the drop of any hat.
He was a gifted athlete and played in his church's orchestra, but his professional musical career began when
the Cummings family moved to Hilo and he joined the Huapala troupe in 1933. Several years later, he had a
regular Sunday radio show, billed as the 'Wandering Troubador' and he joined the Hilo Police department, where
he sang in the glee club. This and his work with the force's pistol team, took him to the mainland for the first time
in 1937. Impressario E.K. Fernandez spotted the group of cops dancing and playing Hawaiian music and booked
Andy and the Huapala troupe on a 9-month North American tour.
This excursion to the Toronto and on to Kalamazoo, Detroit and Lansing, Michigan, was when Andy wrote the
song generally acknowledged to be the greatest Hapa Haole song of them all, 'Waikiki,'
while longing for home. He also met his future wife--hula dancer Florence Kaluae Ikuwa--on this tour.
Andy played at a few local nightspots upon returning to Honolulu, and was working as a tug operator in Pearl Harbor
as the war began in the Pacific. After the war, he formed a new group which played at all the hot spots, including
Chock See's By the Sea, the Outrigger Canoe Club, Kilohana Gardens, Florentine Gardens and Queen's Surf.
In addition to songwriting, Cummings never let a local event go unmusicalized--he wrote 'No Puka in the
Pali' to oppose the tunnel, another to promote statehood. He also specialized in commercial jingles, and was a
musical ambassador for the islands while working for Hawaiian Airlines as a sales promoter.
Biographical material from Tony Todaro, The Golden Years of Hawaiian Entertainment (Tony Todaro Pub., 1974).