Mele Fong aka Ukulele Mele tells the story behind the song Swing Low Sweet Chariot. This Negro spiritual visualizes a chariot swinging from heaven to carry their souls over Jordon River to Liberia. One story says the song was born in the heart of Sarah Hannah Sheppard of Tennessee who was sold as a slave around 1847. Mrs. Sheppard was about to throw herself and her baby into the Cumberland River rather than be separated as a slave in Mississippi when someone stopped her. This person prophesized “Let the chariot of the Lord swing low. There’s great work for this baby to do here on earth. She’s going to stand before kings and queens.” Twenty-five years later, her baby girl enrolled in Fisk University, joined the original Fish Jubilee Singers, and as their pianist went on concert tours. Years later, musician Henry Thacker Burleigh arranged the song which was published in 1917. This song has been sung and recorded by many artists, both Negro and white, and continues to be popular today.
NOTE: Monthly Online Lessons by subscription are no longer available from Mele’s website UkuleleMeleOnMaui.com. Instead, you can learn to play the Ukulele Mele Way for free by watching video lessons on this YouTube Channel.
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Native Hawaiian Mele Fong from Maui is an experienced educator and professional entertainer with over 50 years experience playing the ‘ukulele – Hawaii’s official instrument. Are UKE having fun yet? Watch. Listen. Play. The Ukulele Mele Way!