November 13th, 2011
07:03 PM ET
HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - As President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and the heads of 18 other nations dined together Saturday night, they were unwittingly serenaded for almost 45 minutes by a musician playing a song about the Occupy Wall Street movement.
"We occupy the streets, we'll occupy the courts, we'll occupy the offices of you, till you do the bidding of the many, not the few," sang Matthew Swalinkavich, a well-known local guitarist who calls himself Makana, the Hawaiian word that means "the gift". Makana was invited by the White House to perform during the APEC leaders' dinner.
Dressed in a suit, Makana at first played traditional Hawaiian-style music as leaders arrived at Honolulu's Hale Koa Hotel. He continued his performance during dinner, positioned next to the four tables where leaders and their spouses dined. Eventually he unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a t-shirt that said, in handwritten letters, "Occupy with Aloha," and began playing a song he recently wrote called "We Are the Many".
Video recorded on a cell phone by Makana's sound technician showed some leaders turning their attention toward him as he sang the song, but most appeared not to notice. "I started out very cautiously because my intention was not to disrupt their dinner. My intention was to subliminally convey a message that I felt was paramount to the negotiations," Makana told CNN. "Eventually I got enough courage to go into it for an extended period of time. And I ended my show with the line 'the bidding of the many not the few.' I sang it about fifty times in different ways for them to hear."
Makana said President Obama's table, located on the far side of the tent from where he performed, appeared engaged in conversation throughout the meal and it was unclear if the president heard the protest song. Aides were not present at the dinner, Makana said, and the wait staff only made brief appearances to deliver courses.
The White House declined to comment on the incident.
CNN's Stacia Deshishku contributed to this report.