(KRON) — As we continue our celebration of Asian-American-Pacific-Islander Heritage Month, we want to shine the spotlight today on a “small” contribution from the Pacific Islands that made a big impact on American culture – the ukulele.

The Bay Area recently hosted the Northern California Ukulele Festival at James Logan High School in Union City.

“There’s something about hearing the ukulele that transports you – relaxes you,” said Georgia, a fan at the festival.

Although the ukulele is synonymous with tropical vacations and the Pacific Islands, it didn’t come from there. It’s actually the descendant of a Portuguese instrument called the “machete,” that settlers brought with them to Hawaii in the late 1800s. The locals loved it.

One of its biggest fans was Hawaii’s last reigning king – King David Kalakaua – who insisted it be played at royal gatherings. It was around this time the instrument was redesigned… retuned… and renamed the “ukulele” – which means “jumping fleas” in Hawaiian.

America’s love affair with the ukulele began in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts.

It’s one of the last remaining elements of the 1915 World’s Fair – held in the city to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal. Exhibition palaces stretched across the Marina, showcasing commerce and culture from all over the world.

Across from the lagoon stood the Hawaiian pavilion, where inside, a delegation from the islands performed music – featuring the ukulele.

Its appeal was immediate.

Vaudeville performers loved it because it was cheap and easy to learn. They took it across the country… introducing it to America. Over the year, fans have certainly changed its sound.

The Northern California Ukulele Festival is an annual event that brings together lovers of the ukulele throughout California. The first festival was held in 1994.

“It’s everything — everything that we see on the news today, this included, right? We want to share ourselves and share that we are all trying to live our best lives here together on this planet,” said Sarah Kamai-Paler, festival coordinator.

Maybe that’s why this tiny instrument endures, because it inspires something bigger. For some, its music strikes a deeper chord.