Over the past two decades, Jake Shimabukuro has proved that there isn’t a style of music that he can’t play. While versatility for any musician is impressive, what’s remarkable about Shimabukuro’s transcendent skills is how he explores his seemingly limitless vocabulary – whether it’s jazz, rock, blues, bluegrass, folk or even classical – on perhaps the unlikeliest of instruments: the ‘ukulele. Responding to the urgent calls of his fervent imagination, the Hawai’i-born virtuoso has taken the ‘ukulele to points previously thought impossible, and in the process he’s reinvented the applications for this tiny, heretofore underappreciated four-string instrument, causing many to call him “the Jimi Hendrix of the ‘ukulele.”
Humbly, the good-natured musician, who first picked up the ‘ukulele at the age of four, says, “From the time I started playing, I was just doing what came naturally and what felt like fun. I love all types of music, so I never thought, ‘Oh, I can’t play that on the ‘ukulele.’” He laughs and adds, “If you don’t know the rules, you don’t need to follow them, and then nothing can hold you back.”
Shimabukuro’s incredible journey has taken him from local phenom to YouTube sensation, from playing tiny clubs to headlining the world’s most prestigious concert venues like the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center and the Sydney Opera House. He’s performed on the biggest TV shows and has released a string of award-winning, chart-topping albums. Just recently, he was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as a Member for the National Council on the Arts.